Liposuction rise linked to gym wear trend

Image source, Getty Images

More women are seeking liposuction, possibly to get a body that looks good in trendy gym clothing, according to a leading cosmetic surgeon.

Rajiv Grover, from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, says latest UK data shows procedures have gone up 12% in a year, from 2,039 in 2017 to 2,286 in 2018.

He warned that there was no quick fix to fighting flab.

Surgery has risks as well as benefits and should be a "last resort", he said.


  • Liposuction removes fat cells but is not a substitute for losing weight
  • It won't stop you putting on weight
  • The amount of fat that can be removed from an area is limited by what is safe
  • It may not be possible to slim down an area as much as you might like
  • It is used to change the contours of parts of the body like the hips and tummy
  • Pick a surgeon who is properly trained and registered with the General Medical Council

According to the new figures, more than 28,000 plastic surgery procedures took place in 2018, a small increase of 0.1% on 2017.

Women underwent 92% of all cosmetic procedures recorded.

As in 2017, the three most popular procedures for women were breast augmentation, breast reduction and blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery).

The biggest increases for women were for liposuction, which rose 12%, and facelifts, which rose 9%.

Mr Grover, who runs the audit, said: "The rise comes at a time where a fashion trend for women is athleisure clothing, showing what kind of physique you have rather than covering up."

Athleisure includes figure-hugging clothing, such as leggings and bra tops, suitable for exercise and everyday wear.

He said that the rise in liposuction could also be more women seeking fat loss surgery over less invasive fat freezing methods (although the audit data does not include non-surgical procedures).

"People should know that liposuction is not risk-free," he said.

"An operation is not something that can simply be returned to the shop if you have second thoughts."

He gave the example of footballer's wife Denise Hendry, who died in 2009 during one of several operations carried out to correct complications caused by botched liposuction.

"People need to be aware that liposuction is an invasive procedure that carries risks. And it is not a cure for being overweight. There is no shortcut, although it can help with stubborn areas of fat.

"My advice? Eat a healthy diet and exercise if you want to get that gym body."

Kate Dale, from Sport England's This Girl Can campaign said: "We understand the pressures women feel under - our research shows that a fear of being judged is the number one reason stopping many women from getting active.

"It doesn't matter what you look like or how good you are, what matters is that you're getting active for you."

Overall, male cosmetic surgery dropped by 4.7% in 2018.

The top surgical procedures in 2018 (for both men and women, in order of popularity):

  • Breast augmentation 7,745 - down 6% from last year
  • Breast reduction 4,299 - up 6%
  • Blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) 3,153 - down 4%
  • Abdominoplasty 2,912 - up 6%
  • Rhinoplasty 2,831 - up 3%
  • Liposuction 2,518 - up 9%
  • Face/neck lift 2,134 - up 7%
  • Fat transfer 1,428 - down 3%
  • Otoplasty (ear correction) 944 - down 6%
  • Browlift 383 - down 14%

More on this story