Facing the demand: Leading cosmetic consultant reveals top cosmetic surgery trends of 2021


With demand for cosmetic procedures on the rise, Mr T K Sankar, Group Chief Medical at The Harley Medical Group reveals the top cosmetic surgery trends which have emerged on Harley Street in 2021


The UK cosmetic surgery industry is big business, currently worth an estimated £3.6 billion[1]. However, it is an industry which has seen a great deal of evolution in procedure trends over the years.

Most recently, this has been driven by the ongoing pandemic and “Zoom dysmorphia”, which together have had a negative impact on our collective self-esteem and confidence[2]. Added to this, is an emerging desire amongst patients looking to achieve a more ‘natural’ appearance through their cosmetic treatments.

The Harley Medical Group treats thousands of patients every year with procedures to help improve body confidence and wellbeing. As 2021 comes to a close, Mr T K Sankar, Chief Medical Officer and Consultant Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon at The Harley Medical Group, reveals the top surgical procedures that people have booked over the last 12 months. He also shares his expert advice on what potential patients should consider before embarking on their cosmetic surgery journey.

1. The Natural Look

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in patients seeking a more natural-looking appearance. This particularly the case when it comes to breast surgery. For instance, while breast augmentation remains one of our most popular treatments, we have seen enquiries for breast reduction surgery boom since we’ve come out of the pandemic.

Not only are breast implants also getting smaller, another popular procedure for patients opting for breast augmentation is a fat transfer. This is a surgical intervention in which the fat from another body part (such as the abdomen or thighs) is transferred and injected into the breasts.

With this procedure, we aim to eliminate excess fat and improve the shape and volume of the breasts, which may have been lost due to ageing, weight loss, pregnancy, or breastfeeding. This helps us to achieve a more natural result, without the need for breast implants.

While breast surgery is a great option for patients seeking to improve their body confidence or correct asymmetric concerns or birth defects, it is important for anyone considering this surgery to research their options thoroughly and consult an appropriately qualified surgeon who is registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) in their specialist register either in plastic surgery or breast surgery.

2. Hair transplant

At The Harley Medical Group, we have seen the number of people undergoing hair transplant surgery rise by over a third (34%) between 2020 and 2021. This is a procedure carried out under local anaesthetic and involves transferring hair follicles from parts of the scalp with most hair to thinning areas or bald spots.

The treatment is most popular amongst males aged 30 – 34, which is perhaps unsurprising given that many men experience gradual, permanent hair loss with age. Referred to as androgenetic alopecia or ‘male pattern baldness’, it often develops around the hairline and on top of the head.

It is likely that this rise in demand has been driven by the pandemic. With many people continuing to work from home, coupled with the varying lockdown restrictions experienced throughout 2020 and 2021, patients have had the time and discretion they need to rest and recover after this invasive procedure.

Although it is more common amongst men, we do also offer hair transplant surgery to female patients, who generally experience androgenetic alopecia (also known as female pattern baldness, or female pattern hair loss), which is when they permanently lose hair with age. Unlike men, there is more of an overall effect of thinning hair, although it tends to be most noticeable around the parting.

It is important for prospective patients to note that if they experience sudden hair loss or it or occurs in random patches, it can be a sign of a medical condition requiring treatment. It’s therefore important to speak with a doctor if hair loss is experienced.

3. Tummy tuck

A tummy tuck (or abdominoplasty) is a popular procedure for anyone carrying excess skin on their abdomen. Although the tummy area is a typical place for stubborn fat on both men and women, it is particularly common amongst women. In fact, in the last 12 months, we have seen interest in this treatment soar by 18%, primarily amongst female patients aged 30 – 34.

The popularity of this treatment among female patients is in large part driven to the physical changes the body experiences throughout pregnancy. As we gain weight, whether this is through puberty, pregnancy or lifestyle choices, our skin stretches to accommodate our new shape. If this weight is lost quickly and you are extremely lucky, the skin may snap back as it once was, however many people are left with loose skin on the tummy.

Carrying excess and loose skin on the abdomen can leave us feeling self-conscious and may have a knock-on impact on our confidence and happiness. When it's not possible to rectify this issue through diet and exercise alone, tummy tuck surgery may be the right option.

4. Rhinoplasty

Rhinoplasty (nose surgery) has always been a common cosmetic procedure, both within our group and throughout the UK. However, there has been plenty of discussion around how the initial lockdown period led to an increase in cosmetic surgery, with a noted rise across the industry in requests for video consultations for new cosmetic procedures in the past 12 months.

Even now, we are continuing seeing to see a rise in demand for surgeries such a nose job, with this procedure up by 8 per cent at The Harley Medical Group within the last year.

This is likely attributable to our new lifestyles, with Zoom calls by now an established and integral part of the hybrid working environment. Coupled with our selfie obsession and video calls with friends and family, which amplify facial asymmetry and distort the image of ourselves as we know it, this has potentially led to greater anxiety about our physical appearance.

That said, nose surgery is not only carried out for self-esteem and cosmetic reasons but can also be used to treat health reasons, such as breathing difficulties.

However, as a central part of the face, before undergoing nose surgery I would advise potential patients to remember that even with surgery, they will still look like themselves. It is fundamental to have a full understanding of what is realistic and achievable before embarking on a cosmetic surgery journey.

Our job as surgeons is about improving our client’s psychological self-awareness and the quality of their day-to-day life. This can be achieved only by delivering patient centred safe and appropriate surgical procedures.

For more information, visit www.harleymedical.co.uk.


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About The Harley Medical Group

The Harley Medical Group is one of the UK’s leading cosmetic groups specialising in cosmetic surgery, facial treatments, body treatments, skin peels and advance skincare products.

As a group we are committed to the highest standards in delivering medical procedures and aftercare, with our founded on care approach at the heart of everything we do.

The group has clinics across the UK, including London (Harley Street, Chiswick, Wimbledon and Liverpool Street) Watford, Marlow, Birmingham, Leeds, Brighton, Bristol, Manchester, Nottingham, Southampton, Cardiff, Chelmsford, Northampton, Maidstone, and Liverpool.

A dedicated strong team of nurses, surgeons, and doctors along with their commitment to each and every patient is one of the Group’s greatest assets. The Group’s primary goal is to look after all patients, offering the highest standards of care at all times.

For more information, please visit: https://www.harleymedical.co.uk/

[1] British Dental Nurses Journal, Face the Demand February 2020
[2] https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm5801/cmselect/cmwomeq/805/80502.htm

Posted January 16, 2022
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