Athleisure clothing is to blame for a 12% spike in demand for liposuction among women

Athleisure clothing is to blame for a 12 per cent spike in demand for liposuction among women, experts have claimed. 

Leggings, cropped sports bras and trainers now come in styles deemed as acceptable in the pub as they are on the treadmill.

But to pull off the trend in a social setting, women are striving for the fit physique.

Instead of stepping up the gym routine in the hopes of a washboard stomach, they are turning to plastic surgery, according to The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. 

The organisation voiced concerns that plastic surgery is becoming a ‘commodity’ as celebrities freely speak about procedures – some of which are available on the high street.

Athleisure clothing is to blame for a 12 per cent spike in demand for liposuction, experts at  The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons have claimed

BAAPS revealed data on surgery trends in the past year, with liposuction operations, in which fat is removed from the stomach, hips, thighs or buttocks, rising by 12 per cent to 2,286. 

Abdominoplasty, a tummy tuck which removes excess skin to help shape the stomach after weight loss for example, rose by five per cent.

Celebrities and popular reality TV shows such as Love Island have contributed to women wanting a tighter tummy, BAAPS speculated.

Former BAAPS President Rajiv Grover, who compiled the audit, said: ‘The rise (of liposuction) comes at a time where the popularity of TV shows such as Love Island has driven the desire for a toned torso, as did the fashion for women’s athleisure clothing.’

Athleisure aims to combine fashion and functionality so that the wearer can go from the gym to a bar – or even work – without changing.

The term officially entered the dictionary in April 2016, defined as ‘casual clothing to be worn for exercising and for general use’.

Mr Grover said: ‘The trend is also driven by the openness of celebrities like Jane Fonda who recently admitted to having surgery over several decades to enhance her looks and prolong her career.’  

The group of experts are concerned that people won’t take consideration of cosmetic surgery seriously in an age where it is endorsed so regularly by celebrities.

Mr Grover said: ‘The danger of cosmetic surgery becoming too closely linked to reality TV or celebrity endorsement is that it can make surgery seem like a commodity, which should never be the case.

‘An operation is not something that can simply be returned to the shop if you have second thoughts.’ 


Rhinoplasty: 571 – up 3% from last year

Otoplasty (ear correction): 412 – down 2%

Blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery): 333 – down 17%

Breast Reduction: 285 – down 4%

Liposuction: 232 – down 14%

Abdominoplasty: 179 – up 18%

Face/Neck Lift: 121 – down 16%

Fat Transfer 98 – down 10%

Brow lifts 55 – down 4%

Breast augmentation: 18 – Static



Breast augmentation: 7,727 – down 6% from last year

Breast Reduction: 4,014 – up 7%

Blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery): 2,820 – down 2%

Abdominoplasty: 2,733 – up 5%

Liposuction: 2,286 – up 12%

Rhinoplasty: 2,260 – up 3%

Face/Neck Lift: 2,013 – up 9%

Fat Transfer: 1,330 – down 2%

Otoplasty (ear correction): 532 – down 10%

Browlift: 328 – down 15%


Other areas of cosmetic surgery on the rise are face and neck lifts, by nine per cent and nose jobs by three per cent.

But brow lifts fell by 14 per cent in both men and women, presumably because non-surgical treatments on the high street are more accessible.

Superdrug, for example, has been offering Botox and dermal fillers to customers over the age of 25 since August.

Commenting on the shift towards high street procedures, BAAPS believe customers’ safety could be at risk.  

BAAPS president and consultant plastic surgeon Paul Harris called for tighter regulations in these non-healthcare settings – echoing concerns from the launch of Superdrug’s procedures.   

Mr Harris said: ‘The rise in high-street and DIY non-surgical cosmetic procedures is hugely concerning for a number of reasons, not least the potential for profit to be placed before patient care.

‘Other issues are that it makes it easier for underage individuals to access, that unrealistic expectations may not be addressed, and that any emergency complications would need to be dealt with outside of a medical environment.

‘Further regulation of products, practitioners, procedures and premises is urgently required to ensure patients’ physical and psychological well-being.’ 

After criticism from the NHS, customers at Superdrug must be quizzed on their mental health before a procedure, which they have to book over the phone after having a consultation with a qualified nurse. 

Over 28,000 people paid for a procedure in 2018, according to the figures, a small increase of 0.1 per cent from the previous year.

More than nine in ten treatments were taken by women, with the three most popular procedures breast augmentation, breast reduction and eyelid surgery, known as blepharoplasty. 

Males have shown a drop in interest by 4.7 per cent, with only nose jobs and abdominoplasty increasing in popularity. 


Liposuction removes unwanted deposits of fat from specific areas of the abdomen, thighs or buttocks which do not respond to diet or exercise. 

In the UK, liposuction ranges in price from about £2,000 to £6,000, depending on where you go and the body areas being treated. 

Most of us (unless obese) have a set number of fat cells that expand and contract depending on our diets and activity levels. Liposuction gets rid of some fat cells for good, leaving less to expand and contract and so reducing fat levels.

Liposuction is most suitable for patients of a relatively normal weight who have pockets of excess fat in a particular area of their abdomen. The firmer and more elastic the skin, the better the results. It will not get rid of cellulite. 

All liposuction is performed using a narrow hollow metal rod, known as a cannula, attached to a vacuum pump which is inserted under the skin through an incision and passed back and forth through the fatty area, sucking the fat out in small bits. 

In some situations, for instance if the fat is globular and heavy as in the ‘saddle bags’, a special cannula which emits ultrasound may be used to break down the fatty deposits before suction so that a smooth result can be achieved.  

Both standard and ultrasound liposuction can be augmented with a process called tumescent liposuction, which involves fluid containing anaesthetic and adrenaline being circulated through the area to be treated to stop pain and decrease bleeding. In this case, the cannula is used to suck up the saline and the surrounding fat together, leaving a smooth contour. 

There will be an immediate noticeable difference, and after three months the final contour should be apparent. 

The removed fat cells will not grow back unless you become obese, so the new shape should be maintained permanently if you adopt a healthy lifestyle. 

Some swelling may persist for as long as six months although most of the bruising and swelling usually disappears within six weeks.