Plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Dr Frank Graewe put together an article on the top trends in cosmetic surgery in 2016.

In it, he notes that cosmetic surgery trends are influenced by celebrities, social media and conformation with current trends in social and cultural environments.

For example, in the United States of America and some parts of Europe, buttock enlargement is becoming hugely popular. He says this is primarily due to celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Nicki Minaj who have brought back the “fuller and higher buttock”.

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He says that in South Africa, as in the rest of the world, liposuction and breast enlargement are still the most commonly performed procedures. However, some of the biggest new trends in cosmetic surgery are:

Adding fat: Fat is not necessarily discarded anymore after liposuction but used to improve other areas in the body.

The buttocks

In 2014 there was an 86% increase in buttock augmentation in the USA, mostly with the persons own fat.

The face

Fat is injected into the face to replenish volume and improve the hollow and sagging look of aging faces. It not only replenishes lost volume but the stem cells in the grafted fat simultaneously improve and rejuvenate the quality of skin in the face.

Breast enlargements

An increasing number of women prefer breast enlargement with their own fat rather than using prosthetic material, probably fuelled by fear instilled by the scandal with French PIP implants a few years ago.

The hands

Fat is even injected into hands to take away signs of aging.

3 Questions for Dr Graewe:

1)      You say that celebrities and social media play a large part in establishing trends and that this is true for plastic surgery too. Is it wise for women to make drastic and long lasting decisions about their bodies because it is currently fashionable? Are these procedures reversible?

It is not advisable to make drastic and long-lasting decision due to a social media frenzy or short lived fashion if it means you permanently by means of surgery change your body, with subsequent scarring and other possible risks and complications.

Procedures are sort of reversible up to a certain extent, but scarring will stay, skin excess might need to be reduced if you stretch the skin first to enlarge a body part.

2)      It seems liposuction is still a very popular procedure in SA. But what about reports that warn against uneven fat distribution after liposuction? Is this a common problem?

Liposuction and rhinoplasty (nose job) surgery are the procedures with the highest reoperation rate. With liposuction it can be contour irregularities, asymmetry or just unhappiness from the patient' side.

It also shows that liposuction is not just a small and easy procedure that could be performed by any doctor that is medically trained. It is a rather difficult procedure to get it right, with lots of possible side effects and even life threatening complications if not managed correctly. It should only be performed by trained certified specialists in this field.

3)      How is the “first do no harm” principle practiced in cosmetic surgery? Where do you draw the line regarding what a client/patient wants and what is good for them? Wouldn’t some people do better with therapy instead of surgery?

It is rather difficult to judge whether the perceived deformity causes sufficient suffering to undergo the risk of cosmetic surgery. However, we also know that techniques have much improved, especially with safety aspects like in liposuction, and it is possible to correct or improve deformities or signs of aging with efficient cosmetic procedures with relatively small risks.

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