More people are taking out loans to fund cosmetic surgery

Abbey National plc has said it has seen a 50% increase in the number of people taking out a personal loan to cover the cost of cosmetic and plastic surgery during the first two weeks of January compared with the same period in 2005.

Cosmetic surgery is increasing in popularity. Demand for cosmetic operations to improve our appearance increased by over a third to 22,041 last year, according to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. Eyelid lifts, which usually from 2,000 were up 50% and nose jobs which cost from 3,200 were by 35%. The number of operations for men increased by just under 50% to 2,440.

A survey by market analyst Mintel shows almost 700,000 cosmetic procedures will be performed this year, at a cost of 539m. By 2009 the total number of cosmetic procedures is expected to exceed one million, at a cost of almost 1bn. Botox, breast enlargements and facelifts are said to be the most popular cosmetic enhancements.

The sharp increase in demand for cosmetic surgery was beaten only by people taking out a loan to pay their tax bill with the Inland Revenue, which saw an increase of 68% on the same period last year.

Getting married was also a major contributor to Abbey's personal loan figures. The number of people borrowing money to pay for a wedding jumped by 32% compared with 2005.

The number of loans taken out to cover medical costs were 21% higher, and 10% more people borrowed money to pay for a funeral. But at the same time there was a 14% fall in the number of people taking out a loan to buy a new car, while borrowing to pay for a divorce was 5% lower.

Loans for debt consolidation remained largely static, rising by just 1%, although it still remained the top reason people borrowed money. The second most common reason people took out a loan was to buy a new car, followed by spending money on their home, either through home improvements or buying furniture.

Paula Ickinger, Abbey's head of personal loans marketing, said: 'Only two or three years ago, the number of people borrowing for cosmetic surgery would have been very few and far between, but now it's become a more regular occurrence.