Why scandal won't end our love affair with the beauty doc
Once it was for the rich and vain -- now, it seems, cosmetic surgery is a step above getting your teeth fixed for thousands of Irish women and men.
The scandal of the dangerously faulty Poly Implant Prosthesis (PIP) breast implants has focused attention on the extent to which ordinary Irish women are turning to the surgeon for that special pick me up.
When the story about these leaking implants first broke, it was a problem in France where the implants were manufactured for some 30,000 French women.
In Britain some 40,000 women had the implants -- and it emerged that so too did an estimated 1,500 Irish women.
While there is no collated data on cosmetic surgery in Ireland, estimates provided by private clinics suggest several hundred people undergo fairly major -- and medically unnecessary -- surgery every week.
The reason exact figures are hard to come by is that, according to private practices contacted by the Herald, it's "commercially sensitive information".
But one clinic alone, admittedly a busy one, estimates it performs 20 breast augmentation procedures every week.
Average age of the women getting the surgery? 27 years.
Not too long ago, the common perception was that it was older women -- in their 40s, 50s and 60s -- trying to reverse the ravages of time who were turning to the surgeon's knife.
Now, a much younger generation appears to think it's perfectly normal to give nature a helping hand in fixing the body.
Women who have surgery at the age of 27 are highly unlikely to balk at further nips and tucks as the years roll by.
At the moment, the industry is worth an estimated €40m a year -- but given the lack of statistics, this could be wildly underestimated.
While young women still account for the biggest share of the surgeons' clientele, the operation to remove male boobs (so-called moobs) is the second most popular procedure around Dublin.
Tummy tucks and face lifts were the third and fourth most popular procedures in 2011.
And why not?
The 'because-you're-worth-it' generation never had any hang-ups about the money or effort they put in to improving their appearances.
And if it's acceptable to hit the gym four times a week for the body beautiful, what's so wrong about spending your own hard-earned money on shifting the last stubborn pockets of fat?
The current scare over a particular type of breast implant might give some pause for thought. But it's most likely only a pause.
Remember Leslie Ash and her tragically overblown trout pout?
The results caused widespread shudders -- but as long as Angelina Jolie and her pillow lips remain the ideal, the clinics who offer the procedure can keep smiling.
- New alert on implants used by 1,500 women here
- What you need to know about the lax rules of cosmetic surgery