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Over the last few years, the media has developed a sensationalist, headline grabbing obsession with breast surgery without any qualms whatsoever. Scarcely a day goes by without speculation on whether a celebrity has has some work done, had too much work done, and needs further work done or simply got there by the grace of nature. Little wonder against the intense media feeds over the years that plastic surgery for breasts has become one of the top five cosmetic procedures in both the USA and the UK.

How common is cosmetic breast surgery?

A representative body of knowledge folks on the subject is obviously going to be the surgeons who augment, uplift or reduce breasts. The 2008 annual audit figures for the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, London, UK showed a staggering 34,000 patients had had cosmetic surgery that year [1]. Patients were overwhelmingly female (91%) and the most popular treatment was breast augmentation (the classic ‘boob job’ to make breast bigger). Demand for it has risen by 30%, even during the year that marked the first portentous signs of the coming economic recession.  Conversely,   the numbers for breast reduction surgery were also up by 13% on the year before.

In contrast, the USA figures showed some decline though, breast augmentation surgeries down by 12%, breast reduction down by 16% and breast uplifts down by 13%.

 One interesting trend is the men are also electing for aesthetic surgery. In the UK, male breast reduction rocketed from a mere 22 operations in 2003 to 323 last year [1]. This is echoed by the 17,902 men undergoing the same procedure in the USA during the same period [2].

Breast size concerns

Female breast augmentation is the classic ‘boob job’, popularised possibly by the rise of the WAGs and other media-prominent celebrities. It uses silicone or saline implants to make breasts fuller, generally inserted through incisions under the natural breast curve. It may also be performed via an underarm incision.

 Female breast reduction is often chosen by women whose heavy breast cause breast pain, restrict sports due to discomfort, and may cause bra straps to uncomfortably dig in. The reduction operations generally remove breast tissue and then reposition the nipple to avoid unnatural looking results.

 Male breast reduction surgery is an innovative set of procedures designed to end the ‘moobs’, or ‘man boobs’ . The condition is the butt of so many media jokes now it’s easy to forget how some men really feel about their chest contour. The surgery removes adipose tissue and possibly excess skin through liposuction, excision. Whilst ‘moobs’ may be popular comedic fodder these days, the condition of gynaecomastia (larger male breasts) can be extremely distressing for some men, perhaps reflected in the rising uptake of this newer procedure.

Breast shaping concerns

Female breast ‘uplifting’ is often chosen by women whose breasts have begun to ‘sag’ or lost their pertness, for a number of reasons- multiple pregnancies, large weight loss from dieting and simply the ageing process reducing skin elasticity. The process usually removes excess skin and again repositions the nipples.

 DISCLAIMER: No information here can be used as medical advice or used to make healthcare decisions! Please only consult professional physicians for advice.


1. British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. 2009. Cosmetic rates of inflation: male, female breast ops on the rise. [online]. London: British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons.

2. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. 2009. 2008 Female Plastic Surgery Statistics. [online] Illinois: American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Links to both of these references are available from our website, linked below.

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