New figures have shown that around 20 million cosmetic surgery procedures were carried out around the world last year.
The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery statistics have revealed that 1.35 million people in America had their breasts enlarged, 50,000 people had buttock augmentation in Brazil, 107,000 people in South Korea had their eyes widened and 705 men underwent procedures to have breast tissue removed in the UK.
The statistics demonstrate the extent of the journey taken by plastic surgery over the last 100 years, since Harold Gillies began practicing a type of medicine that was spawned from the trenches of the First World War. Where once, plastic surgery was used in attempt to repair damage caused by bloody battle, today it is also seen as a viable means of improving appearance and increasing self-confidence in people from all walks of life.
So great is the global influence of cosmetic surgery, it is now estimated that half of all women aged in their 20s and living in South Korea and Brazil have had some type of procedure. In Korea, a large number of girls are presented with the chance to have cosmetic surgery by their fathers when they graduate in the belief that a transformation of their features will improve their chances of being successful in life.
For some people, this idea may seem outlandish but the trend is not that different from the 1920s when Hollywood stars such as Gloria Swanson and Rudolph Valentino had procedures on their faces, noses and ears in a bit to secure more acting roles and look better on the big screen.
It is impossible to really compare the current trends in cosmetic surgery to those in countries such as Korea, however. In Britain, less invasive procedures have boomed in recent years and most people do not want their appearance to be changed to such a degree.
Instead, a large number people seeking procedures in the much more regulated realm of cosmetic surgery in the UK do not really want to look as though they have visited a clinic at all. The quest is more for a brighter and healthier appearance, rather than a total feature overhaul.
People who visit Elanic and other cosmetic surgery clinics do not want to end up looking like Jocelyn Wildenstein, otherwise known as the Bride of Wildenstein, and there are few surgeons in the world – and none at Elanic – who would believe that the £4 million spent by the infamous New Yorker was a positive investment.
Yet, while Gillies may have been horrified at the irresponsible use of cosmetic surgery in the case of Wildenstein, he should be content that his influence has helped countless people transform their lives, whether for medical or cosmetic reasons, over the last 100 years.
It is doubtful that one field of plastic surgery could have developed so extensively and positively without the other. Fat transfer procedures developed first in cosmetic work, for example, are now increasingly being used in breast restructuring after cancer treatments.