Winter: the nip-tuck season
When should you go under the knife to guarantee looking your best in time for summer?
This time of year, thanks to forgiving winter fashion, it's easy to 'forget' about the extra pounds you gained over Christmas. But fast forward six months and jiggling thighs and love handles are less easy to disguise in a string bikini.
Whilst crash dieting and a punishing gym regime are always an option, experts agree that for those who aren't squeamish about going under the scalpel, surgery offers a quicker, more effective and longer-lasting solution to shaping up for summer.
And it seems more and more women are choosing their cosmetic surgeon over their trainer in the battle of the bikini-body bulge."The Christmas period is a very busy time for all types of surgery.' explains leading London plastic surgeon Rajiv Grover. "This is because people have more time to hide away and recover. From February consultations and surgery increase significantly as people have had time to get over the festive period and return from their holidays.
The fact that spring and summer are fast approaching is certainly a factor that could influence people's decision to have surgery particularly if they are considering a breast operation or liposuction.' "It's not unusual to see a boost in the number of aesthetic surgery bookings in early spring,' explains a spokeswoman for BAAPS. 'With people asking for the surgery in place of a more conventional present, or treating themselves as part of their New Year's Resolution - choosing the slimming success of a cosmetic procedure, rather than shelling out for yet another unused and ineffectual gym membership."
So if this year you'd rather use those winter layers to conceal the tell-tale signs of post-operative healing, rather than post-Christmas weight gain, check out the guide to the surgery season.
Detailing the latest procedures for slimming, sculpting, toning and trimming your body's black spots.
Make this cosmetic surgery calendar your indispensable guide to scheduling your surgery, guaranteeing your scars have faded and you're figure fixed and ready to flaunt in time for summer.
January:Breast Reduction or Mammoplasty
Best for: Balancing out a top-heavy body shape and especially effective at relieving recurring back pain caused by the weight of disproportionately large breasts. Also popular with women looking to reshape their cleavage as the excision of excess skin and tissue also helps to correct slack, sagging breasts, creating a more pert silhouette.
Why now: As it's not unusual for between one and three kilograms of breast tissue to be removed during the procedure, it's unsurprising that patients can expect up to six weeks of downtime before they can return to full, normal activity.
The process involves repositioning the breast nipple so that it sits higher, removing the unwanted tissue, reshaping the remaining flesh and then removing any superfluous skin. Traditional techniques leave an anchor shaped scar that runs from the nipple, down the breast and under it, but new minimally invasive methods are gaining popularity.
In the initial weeks following the operation expect to wear a surgical bra over gauze dressings, and for the first few days your breasts will be wrapped in an elastic bandage and may be fitted with a small suction drain to draw off blood and fluids.
The scarring can take several months to fade and while bruising and swelling will disappear after three or four weeks, it can up to six months for your breasts to settle into their new shape, meaning it's best to act now if you're hoping to bare all in low-cut tops this summer.
February: Breast Augmentation
Best for: Anyone looking to create a fuller, firmer,more-lifted-looking cleavage.
Why now: Whether you opt for a traditional breast augmentation using implants to introduce or replace lost volume, or the latest technique of thread-lifting breasts to correct sagging, drooping boobs, expect a long wait before you can bare your breasts in a bikini.
While implants are placed under the breast tissue or beneath the chest (pectoral) muscle, thread lifting works by threading barbed suture threads through the breast. The suture has alternate reverse direction barbs which change direction in the middle - this makes a pivotal point to hold the breast tissue taut.
One end is inserted and hooks inside the left side of the breast under the nipple, and the other end is then inserted and hooks inside the right side of the breast and again, hooks in a U shape under the nipple, where the two ends meet. The threads are deep enough to be invisible and cannot be felt.
While gauze dressings can be removed after several days and stitches tend to be removed after a week to ten days, the resulting swelling can take up to five weeks to subside. Scarring will remain firm and pink for at least six weeks, finally beginning to fade after four or five months, but never completely disappearing. As with breast reductions, plan your surgery as soon as possible to leave enough time to heal in time for the summer months.
February: Tummy Tuck or Abdominoplasty
Best for: Anyone looking to achieve that flat as a pancake midriff.Tummy tucks are successful for a range of patients including mums looking to lose their baby belly and slimmers who have shifted thepounds but are left with rolls of loose skin.
Why now: Often combined with a spot of liposuction for reducing the pot-belly effect, tummy tucks involve major plastic surgery and need plenty of recovery time as it helps to tighten slack abdominal muscles as well as removing unwanted fat and fleshy tissue. The initial post-operative recovery period takes around three weeks, but the scar tissue will get worse before they get better, with most patients waiting six to nine months before they see the final result.
Schedule all travel plans for late summer, early autumn as you'll need to keep your navel under wraps and allow yourself a long recuperation period.
March: Body Lift
Best for: Anyone who has lost an incredible amount of weight. This is not about shifting the odd pound, rather it's for men and women who have been obese and through diet have slimmed down but still have great swathes of sagging skin on their arms, hips, chest, stomach and buttocks. Sharon Osbourne is the procedure's pin-up girl.
Why now: Until recently body parts were tackled individually to restore firmness and tone, but an American surgeon, Dr Hurwitz has developed the Total Body Lift. A one-stop surgery that safely and effectively reshapes the body from top to toe.
His unifying approach involves seven to nine hours of surgery, and massive blood transfusions. While most scars can be hidden under bikini lines, this surgery does involve long, horizontal incisions. Usually one is made along the waistline and another just below the breast line, at which point the entire skin flap is lifted.
Post-procedure, you will need to take a month off work and wear a compression garment for around six weeks to help speed your recovery which should be complete after six to eight weeks.
March :Upper Arm Lift or Brachioplasty
Best for:Tackling jiggling flesh on the underside and back of your upper arm - the surgical solution for blitzing bingo wings.
Why now: Traditionally brachioplasty has reduced the amount of spare skin and fat in this difficult-to-tone area, but the resulting zig-zag scar has meant patients are still reticent to reveal their upper arms. New more minimally invasive techniques are being developed though, whereby surgeons make a small asymmetric elliptical incision in the patient's armpit area.
Through this small incision excess fat can be liposuctioned out and any excess skin excised. The results mean a 15% to 20% reduction in patients' arm circumference and the scars are smooth and inconspicuous, hidden in their under arm.Expect to wait three months before the swelling and numbness subsides, for the scar to fade down and before it's possible to take any form of strenuous lifting or exercise such as swimming.
April: Thermage skin tightening
Best for: Loose, slack skin that won't respond to exercise or topical creams and treatments. Ideal for anyone who has lost weight and now needs to firm and tone excess flesh on arms, legs and abdominals.
Why now: Unlike other laser-based treatments that rely on a minimum of four treatments to deliver results, Thermage is a single session procedure. However, experts agree it can take two months before the benefits become obvious, but with the effects lasting up to 24 months it is worth acting now to ensure your figure is firm enough to flash in the coming months.
Targeting trouble spots, Thermage passes radio frequency waves via a probe through the skin's surface and deep down into the dermis where it heats the supporting network of collagen and elastin, kick-starting it to work more effectively whilst encouraging the existing fibres to contract and tighten, resulting in visibly tauter, smoother skin.
April: Bottom Sculpting
Best for: Adding volume to flat, shapeless buttocks, or restoring and repositioning a sagging bottom.
Why now: The Brazilians know a thing or two about looking good on the beach while wearing next to nothing, so if you want to overhaul your derriere, now is the time to make a plastic surgery pilgrimage to Rio de Janeiro.
The best 'bottom lift' in town, is the 'Pitanguy lift', he applies the science of traditional face-lifting to the buttock area, using tiny, discrete incisions to remove fat, retract and rotate the gluteus muscle to make it sit higher and correct drooping, finally retracting the skin for a more youthful look.
Recovery takes from eight to ten weeks, with a little longer for the small scars to fade and become even more negligible.
May: Laser Lipolysis or Liposelection
Best for: Patients looking to 'spot-check' certain body parts such as thighs, abs and buttocks. It is aimed a subtly reshaping your body, unlike a lift or tuck which involves extensive remodelling.
Why now: Unlike traditional liposuction that literally suctions out healthy tissue and flesh along with unwanted fat cells, this new method uses a Vaser (comparable to an ultra sound machine) that heats and liquifies specific fat cells. By targeting these cells and emulsifying them prior to their extraction means the process involves less force and trauma to the body.
It also means the results are smoother and more even, and the recovery time is dramatically reduced. The procedure can remove up to five litres of fat and after just four to six weeks, the results are clearly visible and all tell-tale signs of bruising and swelling will have subsided.