Demand for cosmetic procedures in the UK remains strong

The market for cosmetic treatments in the UK has held up in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and could see a surge from pent-up demand as services re-open and interest, particularly in non-surgical procedures, intensifies, according to the latest research from LaingBuisson .

Preliminary findings from the new Cosmetic Surgery UK Market Report were published by Maria Davies, editor for Healthcare Markets UK last week.

The results indicate that surgical treatments declined by 10% to August 2020, due mainly to the closure of facilities during the initial lockdown. However, despite a dip in April, Google trends show that interest in cosmetic surgery is now more or less back to pre-pandemic levels.

A huge rise in virtual consultations of as much as 70%, according to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, strongly suggests that prospective patients have continued to research and plan procedures.

Report author Liz Heath said: ‘There has definitely been a change in the market and I think there has been a surge in interest. Matching that interest with capacity has definitely been an issue through lockdown, but most people I’ve talked to are expecting to be busy going into Q1 next year.’

Specialists and clinics LaingBuisson contacted during the early weeks of lockdown reported a significant upswing in interest for non-surgical treatments. Heath said this appeared to be a natural evolution of the desire for ‘polishing’ noted by Mintel in its 2018 report, with Botox topping the list of most popular non-surgical procedures.

According to the report, non-surgical procedures continued to be the main driver of growth prior to the pandemic, with the market estimated to be valued at £3bn (US$4bn) in 2019. In contrast, the surgical market declined from around £286m in 2018 to a projected £271m in 2019.

However, the report cautioned that it is too early to say what impact the economic downturn and subsequent job losses will have on the market in the longer term. Cosmetic interventions remain a discretionary spend and previous recessions have seen a temporary drop in demand, but rapid recovery.

Given that much of the market is now non-surgical and potentially more affordable at the same time as interest and web traffic has grown it does not currently look as though there will be a drastic demand impact. And, in the short-term, the pandemic appears to have accelerated interest in a market that has lost much of its stigma and become increasingly accessible in recent years.