This report presents the key findings from an online survey of Scottish adults. It is based on research about private cosmetic procedures in Scotland and focuses on topics including public awareness and perceptions, procedures the public have undergone, expectations and understanding of procedures, resulting health problems, consideration for future procedures, and seeking advice through resources.
Unless stated otherwise, differences between sub-groups in this summary section and the rest of the report are statistically significant.
The survey was undertaken to gather data which will inform the development of policy by the Scottish Government regarding cosmetic interventions. It provides baseline data on the public perceptions and experiences of the Scottish public related to surgical and non-surgical private cosmetic procedures.
The sample consisted of 1,980 Scottish adults aged 18 and over, and has been weighted to be representative of the national population.
Public awareness and perceptions
Nearly one quarter of Scottish adults report that they have at least a fair amount of confidence in the treatment provided by both the surgical (22%) and non-surgical (23%) cosmetic procedures industries.
Roughly two-in-five Scottish adults believe the cosmetic surgery and cosmetic dentistry industries are 'regulated' (43% and 39% respectively), with the non-surgical cosmetic procedures industry believed to be regulated by a smaller proportion (12%).
Young people aged 18-29 are significantly more likely than older adults aged 50-69 and 70+ to have confidence in the treatment provided by both the surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures industries. They are also most likely to believe that the cosmetic surgery and non-surgical procedures industries are regulated.
When considering specific procedures, the Scottish public are most familiar with cosmetic dental treatments (53%) and breast enlargement/reductions (51%).
Two thirds (67%) of Scottish adults do not agree that it is acceptable for the NHS to cover the costs of caring for someone whose private cosmetic procedure has gone wrong. Older adults aged 50+ years are particularly likely to hold this opinion.
Private cosmetic procedures among the Scottish public
Four per cent of the Scottish adult population report that they have had a private cosmetic procedure in their lifetime.
The most commonly reported private cosmetic procedure is a dental treatment, with 2% of Scottish adults having had one. Secondarily, 0.6% have had an injectable cosmetic treatment or a laser skin procedure.
Overall, 1% of Scottish adults have had a cosmetic procedure in the past 12 months.
Experience of private cosmetic procedures
Two thirds (66%) of Scottish adults who have had a cosmetic procedure indicate that they feel they had a strong understanding of what the experience would involve in advance of their most recent procedure. Only a very small proportion (1%) indicate that they had little understanding.
More than three quarters (78%) of Scottish adults who have had a cosmetic procedure agree that their most recent procedure achieved what they expected.
More than one quarter (27%) of Scottish adults who have undergone a private cosmetic procedure in their lifetime report that they have had at least one health problem within the first month following. The most common problems experienced are slow healing (11%), bleeding (8%) and infection (7%).
Public consideration for future cosmetic procedures
Sixteen per cent of Scottish adults who have not had a cosmetic procedure report that they have thought about doing so, with 7% having considered it very or somewhat seriously.
Women (22%) are significantly more likely than men (9%) to state that they have thought about having a procedure, and young adults aged 18-29 (21%) are significantly more likely than older adults aged 50+ years to have done so (12% for 50-69 years and 5% for 70+ years). Younger adults are also significantly more likely than older adults to report that they have very seriously considered having a cosmetic procedure.
Overall, 4% of Scottish adults who have never had a cosmetic procedure report that they are likely to have one in the next three years.
Among Scottish adults who have never had a cosmetic procedure, dental treatments are the most commonly considered procedure, with 8% overall indicating they have thought about having one.
Four per cent of Scottish adults report they are planning to have a cosmetic procedure in the next 12 months. Women (5%) are significantly more likely than men (3%) to say they plan to do so, as are younger adults aged 18-29 (5%) more likely than older adults aged 50-69 (3%) and 70+ (1%).
On par with earlier findings, Scottish adults are most commonly planning to have a cosmetic dental treatment (1.7%) in the next 12 months.
Resources and seeking advice
When Scottish adults are asked which sources they would use if seeking information about cosmetic procedures, they most commonly say they would turn to their GP practice (50%) or search on the internet (49%). A significant proportion also say they would use the NHS Scotland website (40%).
The Scottish public are most likely to report that their first point of contact if something were to go wrong with a cosmetic procedure would be the practitioner who conducted the work (40%). Approximately one-in-five (22%) say they would first contact their GP.
Email: Reme Diaz