IT was the year of the selfie, when snapping your own grinning face – preferably in front of a surprised celebrity, a bemused Queen or a photobombing panda – could get you a zillion social media likes and global stardom.
Now, though, it looks like 2015 could be the year for looking carefully at those selfies and resolving once and for all to go under the knife.
According to one cosmetic surgery specialist, demand for face lifts is soaring, driven by the selfies trend when a quick snap can show up every horrible chin and wrinkly fault, and partly down to our yearning to look better in our Facebook and Twitter profile pictures.
Now it’s emerged that these early weeks of January are prime time for many to take the plunge and sign up for a nip and a tuck.
According to London-based Weymouth Street Hospital, as well as making our diet and fitness resolutions, an increasing number of men and women choose the start of a fresh year to finally decide to tweak their appearance in a bid to hold back the march of time. The result is a January dash to the cosmetic surgeon to enquire about browlifts, eyelid surgery, rhinoplasty – nose reshaping – and full or partial facelifts.
According to the hospital, selfies and people’s desire to improve their social media profile pictures have already helped fuel an upward trend in procedures, with browlifts alone up by 84 per cent last year.
It says other procedures have soared too, such as blepharoplasty – eyelid surgery – up by 41 per cent, nose jobs rising by 40 per cent and the number of facelifts increasing by 37 per cent.
The figures are echoed in numbers gathered by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) for 2013 – due to be updated soon – which revealed a jump across the board in all kinds of cosmetic procedures, led by liposuction but including a surge in anti-ageing procedures. It reported a leap in eyelid surgery of 14 per cent and face and neck lifts up by 13 per cent.
While the search for the perfect selfie image is part of the reason, cheaper procedures, more effective results and the ongoing trend among celebrities to tweak and polish their looks with everything from full scale facelifts to botox injections, is also fuelling a surge in interest for “plastic surgery” which not so long ago seemed only for the Hollywood A list.
According to the hospital’s spokeswoman, Liz Dale, disturbing cosmetic surgery scandals such as the PIP breast implants outrage in which women were given potentially dangerous silicone implants, haven’t put people off the idea of resorting to the surgeon’s skills to make them look better. Indeed, if anything, it’s had a spin-off bonus for the UK cosmetic surgery market by encouraging them to have more treatments at home rather than cheaper foreign procedures.
“Patients are thinking more about who performs and where they have their cosmetic surgery procedures, I believe largely due to the PIP scandal and the rise of horror stories being reported from patients who have sought cheaper treatment abroad,” she says.
“Patients are now far more discerning and do far more research in to treatments and the individual surgeon. We have seen such a marked rise in business and referrals.”
Even less than brilliant results which can leave some wondering why celebrities bothered – such as Kim Novak’s Oscar appearance, pictured left, which prompted unpleasant social media jibes about work she had done – still don’t seem to put us off.
According to Edinburgh facelift patient Margaret*, neither the discomfort nor the expense of going under the knife at Spire Murrayfield last year deterred her. “I started to see my face going south and thought ‘b*gger it’,” she recalls. “So I had a lower facelift.
“I’d already had a breast reduction 15 years ago and knew how quickly you could change the shape of your body or your face.
“And while it was quite a lot of money – nearly £5000 – it’s about the cost of a decent cruise or a car. I had savings, so I decided to do it.
“I spent a long time arguing with myself over whether I was just being vain. And people were saying to me not to be ridiculous, grow old gracefully.”
Margaret, 60, from Corstorphine, will soon front a television campaign for the hospital which is aimed at encouraging more people to consider potential benefits of cosmetic treatment. In it, she is brutally honest about the discomfort she endured afterwards, describing it as “very uncomfortable”.
However, she insists it was worthwhile for the confidence boost it’s given her. “The first couple of weeks afterwards were agony to be honest. It was absolutely horrible,” she says. “I made the mistake of taking a week’s holiday and then going back to work. I hadn’t told anyone there, and I could see people look at me, thinking ‘there’s something wrong with her face’.
“At first I looked like I had been through a wind tunnel. Then I had swelling under my eye. It looked tight until it settled down. But it was very sore.”
Her surgeon took collagen from her thigh and inserted it into her cheeks and removed her sagging jowls by lifting up the skin.
But even five months after surgery, she was still feeling the after-effects. “You have to give it six months,” she says.
“Right after the surgery I looked liked I’d done three rounds with a wrestler or a boxer.
“But it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.”
Late last year swimmer Rebecca Adlington broke down in tears during I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here after admitting she still struggled to accept her appearance despite her “nose job”.
And singer Tulisa, who endured unpleasant comments about her looks following cosmetic enhancements, retaliated by saying she would carry on, adding: “I like having my lips done, it’s my personal thing, it makes me happy.”
Men are no strangers to taking the plunge either – celebrities such as Bruce Jenner, Simon Cowell and actor Mickey Rourke have all had cosmetic procedures aimed at improving their looks. According to Spire Murrayfield, which carries out a range of cosmetic procedures, there is growing demand for surgery, with a 17 per cent rise overall according to last year’s figures, including a 50 per cent surge in nose jobs, 60 per cent jump in upper eyelid surgery and 15 per cent leap in the number of people looking to have their ears pinned.
Meanwhile, Margaret insists the pain was worth the gain: “It takes months, so you have to be realistic after you’ve had the procedure,” she adds.
“But now I look in the mirror and see someone who is ten years younger.
“It’s all worth it.”
*Name has been withheld by request.
• For further details about Spire Murrayfield procedures, go to www.spirehealth.com
It’s not how you look, it’s how you could look.
And cosmetic procedures and enhancements are making it easier than ever to build your own body.
Nips and tucks to tweak the tummy or boost the boobs are now accompanied by procedures for almost any part of the body, from toe tucks to improve the look of our feet, to bottom implants to perk up the rear end. Even private parts can be given a delicate makeover.
Some clinics offer eyebrow transplants thanks to model Cara Delevingne. And there have been reports of men asking for beard transplants so they can tap into the hairy hipster trend.