Demand for cosmetic surgery in New Zealand doubles

Christchurch: Dr Martin Rees, president of the New Zealand Foundation for Cosmetic Plastic Surgery, said surgeons throughout the country reported a growth in operations of 30 and 50 per cent in the last two years.

The doctors put this dramatic growth down to popular TV programmes such as Nip?Tuck and Extreme Makeover which make cosmetic surgery seem as simple as home improvements.

Rees said surgeons needed to be careful to point out to potential patients that cosmetic surgery was not nearly as instantaneous as it appeared on shows such as Extreme Makeover.

“It’s all condensed. It’s a bit like Mitre 10 Home Improvement with your house fixed in half an hour.”

Christchurch-based Californian plastic surgeon Howard Klein said the industry’s local growth reflected a global increase in cosmetic surgery, and there was no question it was influenced by shows such as Nip/Tuck and Extreme Makeover.

Klein said the programmes were helpful in that they generally portrayed cosmetic surgery in a good light.

“They reflect some people’s genuine satisfaction with cosmetic surgery – that positive `I’m really thrilled, this has changed my life’ thing. That’s how I see cosmetic surgery working in practice.”

Klein thought the programme Nip/Tuck – with its catchphrase “appearance is everything” – helped New Zealanders overcome their long-held ambivalence about plastic surgery.

“It’s not that Kiwis have been less interested than my patients in California, but they were uneasy in admitting the fact they were interested,” he said.

Christchurch now has six cosmetic surgeons and a growing band of less-qualified people – mainly GPs and nurses – offering such things as Botox injections, dermal filling, laser resurfacing and skin peels.

AdvertisementAdvertisementA local dental group advertises in the Yellow Pages under the heading Extreme Dental Makeovers.

Merivale plastic surgeon Stewart Sinclair said he was booked up until July.

Although the number of surgeons in Christchurch had increased, he had not experienced any drop in demand.

“I would have expected my practice to decrease but that hasn’t happened. I can’t get much busier,” he said.

Sinclair did not think highly of the TV programmes.

“That Nip/Tuck thing. It’s not real – all those sexual relationships with the patients.”