With the pressure to be "camera-ready" at all times and celebrities openly endorsing cosmetic surgery on social media, it is increasingly difficult to be satisfied with our bodies in the modern world.
The latest body part giving people a complex? The humble belly button. According to plastic surgeons, surgery on the navel area, known as umbilicoplasty, looks set to be one of the biggest cosmetic surgery "trends" of 2018.
Darren Smith, a plastic surgeon working in New York, said he has seen an increased interest in "belly button aesthetics" recently. He told Allure: "The belly button is a very important cosmetic feature of the stomach."
There are two main ways of altering the appearance of the navel: umbilicoplasty, which involves changing the shape and size of the crevice to make it larger or smaller, and umbilical hernia repair, which involves turning an "outie" into an "innie".
People's reasons for wanting the surgery are varied, plastic surgeons say. Some women want it after pregnancy, others want to have excess skin removed after weight loss, while others simply want to change the look of a part of themselves they have always hated.
Describing the procedure, Smith said it is easier to work with belly buttons that are deemed too big than those thought to be too small. "Belly buttons that are 'too large' can be made smaller by removing extra belly button skin and tightening the bordering abdominal skin around the belly button," he told Allure.
The latter operation, meanwhile, involves "removing some of the surrounding abdominal skin and gently stretching the belly button tissue to reach the enlarged border caused by removing the abdominal skin."
We will not know the extent of the "trend" in the UK until next year, but there are signs it has already taken off. According to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons' (BAAPS) 2017 report, abdominoplasty, otherwise known as the tummy tuck, was the fourth most popular procedure last year. (Umbilicoplasty is sometimes carried out as part of this and other abdominal surgeries, although it is unclear exactly how many were conducted in this way.)
The top three most popular procedures among the 28,000 conducted in the UK last year were breast augmentation and breast reduction (both of which saw a 6% rise on the previous year), and blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery).
Cosmetic surgeon Alex Karidis MD FRCS, of Karidis Clinic in north-west London, told Refinery29 he had seen an increase in the number of women contacting him about abdominal procedures, particularly those who have recently given birth, but said it was "only a limited number of cases" in which women enquire solely about the belly button.
Commenting on its report, BAAPS said women in the UK are increasingly preoccupied with surgery altering their bodies rather than faces, because while "the advent of myriad filters in social media platforms allows for the ubiquitous enhancing and facial feminising of ‘selfies’... There are fewer options to reach online ‘fitspiration’ when it comes to body goals."
The trend for activewear, particularly yoga pants and lycra leggings, being worn in everyday life may also play a part in women's increased fixation with altering their bodies, as these "demand a more toned shape", BAAPS added. It is reasonable to assume that the ascendance of crop tops and sports bras, which are increasingly worn without anything over them, are considered under this umbrella – hence the appeal of belly button surgery. What a time to be alive.
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