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Last Updated: Monday, 24 May, 2004, 10:08 GMT 11:08 UK
Couples 'having plastic surgery'
More and more Britons are having cosmetic surgery
Couples are spurring each other on to have cosmetic surgery to improve the way they look, a survey suggests.

One in four of the patients, who took part in the Harley Medical Group poll, said their partner had also gone under the knife.

The group, which runs a chain of cosmetic surgery clinics, said it was a growing phenomenon.

Psychologists said it may be linked to images of body beautiful celebrities and people's desire to be like them.

The findings come just weeks after surgeons warned TV programmes were encouraging people to have cosmetic surgery for the wrong reasons.

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons said shows like MTV's I Want a Famous Face were giving people unrealistic expectations.


Louise Braham, director of the Harley Medical Group, said there was evidence that couples were encouraging each other to have cosmetic surgery.

"There is no doubt that patients are encouraging their partners to explore cosmetic surgery treatment options, although frequently partners will need little persuading.

Patients are encouraging their partners to explore cosmetic surgery treatment options
Louise Braham,
Harley Medical Group
"They can see the benefits experienced by their partner, both physically and psychologically, and don't want to be left behind or stand out of the family's photo album."

Psychologist Linda Papadopoulos said the growth may be linked to the fact that people who have had cosmetic surgery can reassure their partners if they too are considering having an operation.

"If they have been through the experience and they have come through it happier, it is not as scary or daunting for the other person and this will encourage them to follow," she said.

But the psychologist also said the growth in cosmetic surgery couples was a good example of the so-called "social matching theory".

According to this theory, people are more attracted to and want to be with others who have similar characteristics and levels of attractiveness as themselves.

"They search out somebody who has similar characteristics to their own, so you can imagine this theory being played out to extremes with plastic surgery," said Dr Papadopoulos.

The psychologist said images of celebrities were also a major factor.

"In the last few years, we have been bombarded with images of beautiful couples, whether that is Posh and Becks or Madonna and Guy Ritchie.

"That is feeding into this idea that good things come to those who are beautiful.

"If you are beautiful that is good, but you could be much happier if your partner is beautiful too."

More money

Dr Karen Liao, a consultant clinical psychologist at University College Hospital London, said the growth may simply reflect the fact that people are getting richer.

"Plastic surgery is an extension of how people spend money to improve their appearance," she told BBC News Online.

"In the past, they may have changed their hairstyle or clothes, now they are having plastic surgery."

Meanwhile, the Harley Medical Group said demand for cosmetic surgery at its clinics has soared in recent months.

The most popular procedure, for both men and women, is now liposuction with demand up 25% in six months.

Breast enlargements are up a third, while breast reductions are up by 18%.

The numbers having surgery on their nose has increased by 20%, while those opting for facelifts has jumped by 11%.

Other plastic surgery clinics have also reported increased demand in recent months.

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The stigma of plastic surgery
13 Jan 04  |  Magazine

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