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The average age of women undergoing cosmetic surgery has dropped below 40 for the first time, according to new research.

Facial cosmetic surgeon Dr Julian De Silva, who runs the Centre for Advanced Facial Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery in London, found that the average age of female cosmetic surgery patients had decreased from 42 to 39.

Dr De Silva looked at 2,000 patient records from across the UK over the last five years as part of his research.

He suggested that social media usage, particularly of the Instagram app, was responsible for bringing down the average age. Younger women are more frequent Instagram users than older woman, and are so more exposed to enhanced or ‘Photoshopped’ images of reality stars and celebrities.

Image: angelinahue.com

In addition, many smartphones now offer inbuilt filters as standard on the phone’s camera, making it ever easier for users to edit and retouch photos before sharing on online platforms.

Dr De Silva said, “The desire to look good has never been stronger. Filtering provides an instant appearance improvement and I guess that does plant a seed in some patients’ minds.”

The average age for men has also dropped, from 47 to 45.

Michael Saul from Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors said, “This drop in the average age is a sign of the times, one can only imagine that it will continue to decrease. As it does, care must be taken to ensure that the risk-benefit ratio favours the performance of surgery.”

Mr Saul added, “I have successfully pursued and won legal cases where facelifts have been performed on women aged approximately 30 years old. In my opinion, the risks associated with such surgery far outweigh the benefits in a patient so young.”

There were 30,750 cosmetic procedures carried out on men and women in 2016, according to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. Of these, 28,341 were carried out on women and 2,409 on men.

In comparison, surgeons in Brazil, the world’s most prolific country for cosmetic surgeries, performed 2.5 million procedures – accounting for 11 percent of the total worldwide share.