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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 August 2007, 23:23 GMT 00:23 UK
Britons 'have ops for partners'
Cosmetic surgery
Some men offered to pay for the procedure
British women are more likely than Americans to have cosmetic surgery to please their partners, according to research revealed to BBC Scotland.

Aberdeen University's Dr Debra Gimlin said Americans were more likely to have the surgery for themselves.

Her findings also suggest British women were more inclined to keep surgery a secret from family and friends.

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (Baaps) said people should not feel pressurised.

Dr Gimlin, a sociology lecturer, interviewed 20 American and 40 British women ranging from 23 to 52 years old.

American respondents consistently claimed to have had cosmetic surgery 'for themselves'
Dr Debra Gimlin
Aberdeen University

The British sample consisted of 20 women living in Scotland and 20 in the south west of England. The Americans lived on Long Island, New York.

Dr Gimlin said: "All my respondents were concerned with their physical attractiveness, but only the British women said that they had undergone cosmetic surgery to suit the desires of a particular man.

"I found that British women who have cosmetic surgery have a greater tendency to blame others for their decision.

"American respondents consistently claimed to have had cosmetic surgery 'for themselves'."

Husband's criticism

In some cases, Dr Gimlin said, the men made their views abundantly clear through offers to pay for the procedure or snide comments about the woman's appearance.

She said: "One British barmaid told me that her husband's criticism of her figure prompted her decision to have abdominoplasty.

"She said it wouldn't have entered her mind otherwise, but after she'd had her second child her husband said 'I love the wee ones but I wish having them hadn't ruined your figure'."

The patient needs to do it for their own reason
Akhtar Hussein

In other cases, Dr Gimlin said she found that British women had cosmetic surgery in the hope of cementing their partnership.

She said: "A book keeper explained that she probably wouldn't have had a breast enhancement if it hadn't been for her partner.

"She said 'He's not as much in love with me as I am with him. I wanted to do things that might make things right - I thought the surgery might help'."

Dr Gimlin said the very different healthcare cultures in the two countries was a significant factor in the women's contrasting accounts of their reasons for having surgery.

She said: "On the one hand, the privatised US system enshrines individual choice for those that can afford it, while the NHS ensures universal access.

"As such, healthcare in Britain is considered a social right rather than a consumer good or something to be 'earned'."

'Emotional trauma'

She said that Britain had also traditionally a more conservative approach to medical procedures.

Dr Gimlin said: "British women were also far more likely than their US counterparts to conceal their surgery from friends and family.

"Even among British women whose ability to pay for cosmetic surgery might have lessened its implications of selfishness, several admitted to feeling remorseful about having spent a large amount of money on themselves."

Baaps warned women that they need to think carefully before undertaking what could be a serious surgical procedure.

Aberdeen surgeon Akhtar Hussain, of BMI Albyn Hospital, said: "There is a great deal of physical and emotional trauma associated with plastic surgery, therefore the patient needs to do it for their own reason."

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