The number of people having cosmetic surgery in 2016 dropped by 40% compared with 2015, figures show.
The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons said 30,750 procedures had been done – down from 51,140.
Surgeon Rajiv Grover, who compiled the report, said more men and women were choosing cheaper, non-surgical procedures, such as chemical peels.
The biggest fall was in the number of brow lifts, while breast augmentation remained the most popular surgery.
Mr Grover, a consultant plastic surgeon and former BAAPS president, said: “In a climate of global fragility, the public are less likely to spend on significant alterations and become more fiscally conservative.”
The association said that anecdotally, non-surgical treatment such as facial injections have continued to grow in popularity.
But Mr Grover added: “It’s worth, however, remembering that the non-surgical sector is rife with lax regulation, maverick behaviour and unethical promotional gimmicks, so the public must remain vigilant.
“Non-surgical does not, and never has, meant non-medical.”
The surgery audit showed that in 2016:
- On women, 28,341 procedures were carried out, a fall of 39.1% from 2015
- On men, there were 2,409, a fall of 47.8%
- The top choice for women was breast augmentation with 7,732 procedures – down 20% from 2015
- The top operation for men was rhinoplasty (nose reshaping), accounting for 529 procedures in total – down 35% from 2015
- The biggest fall – 71% – was in the number of brow lifts
- The number of men having abdominoplasty – tummy tuck – was up 47% with 172 procedures carried out
Current BAAPS president and consultant plastic surgeon Simon Withey said the audit showed patients were “getting the message” that surgery was not a “quick fix”.
“If it means people are taking their time to be truly sure a procedure is the right investment for them, then this can only be a good thing,” he added.