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.”

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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.