What does 2016 hold for the future of cosmetic surgery?

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Full Name: Kannivelu Badrinath
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What does 2016 hold for the future of cosmetic surgery?

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Plastic surgery might have been around for 101 years, but 2016 is set to see the explosion of a whole new range of surgical and non-surgical treatments, including labia lipo and, gulp, vampire boob jobs.

The reasons behind our most recent quest for perfection are suitably modern, too. A report by the American Academy of Facial Plastic And Reconstructive Surgery claims one in three doctors have seen more demand for plastic surgery because social media has made patients more aware of their looks.

If you’ve ever wanted a jawline as defined as actress Olivia Wilde’s, 2016 might be your lucky year, as we’re going to see the launch of an injectable treatment that will do for double chins what Botox has done for wrinkles. Called Kybella, it consists of deoxycholic acid which, when injected, dissolves fat and breaks it down into small particles, which are absorbed into the body.

The jab hit headlines last spring after receiving approval from the FDA in the US. “That means the most stringent drug testing authority in the world has declared it safe and effective,” says British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) former president Dr Rajiv Grover. “It will be for use on small areas of flab like double chins. It might also be good for fat around the knees, or that fold of fat you get when you put your bra on.”

When the injection was first released to select Los Angeles surgeons in June 2015, it created a huge buzz.

“I’ve never seen a demand like this except for Botox,” said Derek Jones, a dermatologist and lead investigator in the clinical trials of Kybella. “We have a waiting list of people who have been calling for months.”

Allergan, the maker of Botox, recently bought the company that developed Kybella for £1.4billion – a clear sign of what a game-changer it expects it to be.

Janine Hill, 45, a director of a financial company from Phoenix, Arizona, US, had Kybella after noticing fat under her chin in profile shots taken by her doctor when she had surgery on her nose last year. “I was upset,” she says. “I hadn’t looked at myself from that angle much.”

She enquired about liposuction, but her surgeon suggested Kybella instead. Each session involves around 25 injections and costs about £800 in total, although this can vary depending on the size of the area being treated. “The needle isn’t painful, but the Kybella medication does cause an aching, burning sensation once injected. The first time, I was bruised and my face swelled up for about three weeks,” says Janine. “With the second treatment, the area felt numb for a few weeks, but after a month, the numbness and swelling subsided.

“I am ecstatic with the results. Friends think I’m losing weight, but it’s the change in my chin they’re seeing. Two sessions would probably have sufficed, but I’ll have a third, as I’d like the area to be well-defined and youthful.”

Although Kybella is expected to arrive in the UK this year, a launch date is yet to be confirmed. However, some clinics already have waiting lists.

Surgery down under will be bigger than ever this year. According to experts, female genital surgery is one of the fastest-growing fields in the industry.

“It’s one of the areas I specialise in at my practice, and we’ve seen a huge increase in demand for it,” says cosmetic surgeon Paul Banwell, who adds that a lot of women have it for functional reasons because of issues from childbirth. However, with NHS figures showing that five times the amount of labiaplasty procedures are now being carried out in comparison to 2001, Paul suggests a rise in popularity of exercise clothes is also fuelling demand.

“As fashion trends lean towards tighter clothing – such as skinny trousers – surgeons tend to see a rise in treatments such as pubis liposuction,” agrees Harley Street surgeon Dr Max Marcellino. “But it’s a surgical procedure, so it shouldn’t be undertaken lightly.” Nor should the price – procedures can cost between £1,000 and £3,000. “But if a patient is experiencing discomfort due to poorly fitting clothes or feels the visibility of extra fat in this area affects their self-confidence, then it can make all the difference,” says Dr Marcellino.

And as demand for this type of surgery increases, new non-surgical procedures are also being developed, with the recently launched MonaLisa Touch, offered by Dr Athreya at Essex Private Doctors for £1,000. The process involves laser treatment inside the vagina to stimulate collagen production and counteract vaginal atrophy — a condition common during and post-menopause where the walls of the vagina thin and dry out, causing sex to become painful.

Also expected to gain popularity in 2016 is the O-Shot — another procedure from the creators of the vampire face and breast lift — which uses blood plasma injected into the vagina to stimulate growth of new cells. Costing £1,000, it’s supposed to make the area more sensitive to improve orgasms, and is used to help ease stress incontinence and vaginal dryness.

The news when it comes to boobs is that bigger is no longer better. Breast reductions – rather than cup size – are on the up, with a slight rise in surgery, and celebrities including Katie Price and Chantelle Houghton have had their breast surgery reversed. Meanwhile, for the first time in 10 years, demand for enhancement took a dip in 2014, with 23 per cent fewer being performed, according to BAAPS.

“We’re finally moving away from big implants and seeing an increased demand for the natural look,” says Dr Grover. “People want smaller implants to give a little bit of a boost – that’s very much based on celebrity influences.”

A further reason could also be the weight and size of implants – but that’s set to change. “There are plans to develop them in new materials that are stronger, lighter and integrate into the body more easily,” says Paul, who thinks this may boost demand for enlargements once more.

One London clinic recently started offering B-lite implants, which were developed in Israel and are filled with silicate – a silicone gel – making them lighter than others. However, Paul says that while there’s already ripple of excitement, it could be a couple more years before they become widely available.

“Ultimately, it’s about patients’ safety. I don’t think any company now wants to compromise after the PIP scandal [French company Poly Implant Prothèse had its implants banned in 2010 after it was found they contained industrial-grade silicone that was deemed unsafe for the human body]. They want to make sure any development is actually watertight,” he says.

And what if you want to avoid the knife altogether but still fancy a bit of a boost? Dr Sherif Wakil became the first surgeon to bring the vampire breast lift to the UK at his DrSW clinic. The procedure, which costs £1,000, was pioneered by Dr Charles Runels – the same US surgeon who created the vampire facelift that Kim Kardashian West had on Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

Both involve taking the patient’s own blood, spinning it in a machine that separates blood cells from platelet-rich plasma (PRP), and injecting the PRP to generate new tissue. Full results from the procedure are expected after around two months, once the cells have regenerated, and last for over a year.

Terry Armstrong, 52, a mum of two and beauty therapist from Woking, Surrey, decided to have this new procedure last October when her 30FF breasts became saggy after she lost weight. “I’d shed 3-4st, so there was quite a bit of slackness in my breasts, and I’d lost volume, too,” she says. “I just wanted a little more fullness back. But it had to be subtle – I didn’t want the full-on implant look.”

Although the vampire breast lift hasn’t been around for long, Terry felt reassured by the fact that nothing unnatural was injected into her – just her own blood. The procedure takes less than an hour, and the effect is immediate, improving further after a few weeks.

“I’m really happy with the results,” says Terry. “It has filled out my cleavage so when I’m wearing a bra, it looks fuller. It’s only a slight difference, but it’s certainly made me feel more confident in myself.”

Though it could be several years down the line, Dr Grover believes the real future of boob jobs lies in stem cell technology, which will allow surgeons to grow a new breast out of a patient’s own tissue.

“At the moment, an implant has a shelf life of about 12 years, because of your body reacting to it,” he says. “If you put your own fat in there, it won’t need to be changed. It’s a lifetime implant.”

Subtle changes are also set to become all the rage. One study found that 72 per cent of Brits who are considering a cosmetic procedure were after minor results that only they will notice* – something surgeons are dubbing “tweakments”.

“Having less obvious surgical face treatments is a definite trend for 2016,” says Dr Grover. “It’s very much Hollywood celebrity culture driven, where the tendency is to have small procedures spaced out, rather than one extreme makeover. Somebody might have a lower facelift rather than a full one, then they might have their eyes done later on.”

But many women want to avoid the knife altogether, hence the constant evolution of non-surgical facelifts. Starting this month, and still yet to be priced, UK cosmetic surgery giant Transform is offering a new treatment called Silhouette Soft, during which the face is numbed with local anaesthetic and dissolvable threads are injected and used to lift specific areas. “It’s set to be popular for those wanting a redefined, lifted face, with restored volume and an overall smoother appearance, without the need to undergo a full surgical facelift,” explains clinical director Mark Norfolk.

Perhaps the most significant development we’ll see this year is a push for greater regulation of the industry. Right now, any qualified doctor – not just surgeons – can perform cosmetic surgery without undertaking further training or qualifications. “There are some high-profile cosmetic surgeons who are not even on the General Medical Council specialist register,” says Dr Grover. However, at some point this year, there will be a bid by the Royal College of Surgeons to regulate cosmetic surgery and establish a certification system, where surgeons need to demonstrate they meet the standards set. “The key to choosing a surgeon will be whether they are on the GMC specialist register,” adds Dr Grover.

The British Association of Plastic Reconstructive And Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) has also launched its Think Over Before You Make Over campaign, urging people to make more informed choices and not be swayed by cost or trends. “Thousands seem to spend more time choosing an electrician than they do a surgeon,” says Nigel Mercer, president of BAPRAS. “It’s something we definitely need to think about more seriously.”

Report by Clare Thorp in "The Mirror"
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