The number of Britons having cosmetic surgery in 2016 was the lowest in nearly a decade, with a climate of "global fragility" leaving patients prioritising stability over big life changes, figures show.

Data from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) found that the number of cosmetic ops last year dropped 40 per cent since reaching record-breaking heights in 2015.

For the first time in almost a decade of relatively consistent growth, cosmetic surgical procedure totals for women and men combined dipped below 31,000 - with 2016's totals five per cent less than those in 2007.

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BAAPS said that anecdotally, it is non-surgical treatment such as facial injectables which have remained on a steady rise.

Consultant plastic surgeon and former BAAPS president Rajiv Grover, who compiles the audit on an annual basis, said: "In a climate of global fragility, the public are less likely to spend on significant alterations and become more fiscally conservative, by and large opting for less costly non-surgical procedures such as chemical peels and microdermabrasion, rather than committing to more permanent changes.

"The background of negative news and economic uncertainty seems to have re-invigorated the famous British 'stiff upper lip' - achieved, however, through dermal fillers and wrinkle-relaxing injections, rather than surgery.

"Indeed, some procedures which have no real non-surgical equivalent such as abdominoplasty and otoplasty (pinning back prominent ears) are some of the few which changed little, with demand for tummy tucks actually recording an impressive rise amongst men.

"It's worth however to remember that the non-surgical sector is rife with lax regulation, maverick behaviour and unethical promotional gimmicks, so the public must remain vigilant. Non-surgical does not, and never has, meant non-medical."

A total 30,750 procedures were carried out on men and women in 2016 - a fall of 39.9per cent from 2015.

A total of 28,341 procedures were carried out on women in 2016 - a fall of 39.1 per cent from 2015, and a total of 2,409 were carried out on men - a fall of 47.8 per cent from 2015.

The top surgical procedure for women was breast augmentation which accounted for 7,732 - down 20 per cent from the last year, and the top op for men was rhinoplasty, accounting for 529 in total - down 35 per cent from 2015.

The biggest fall was in the number of browlifts - with a fall of 71 per cent.

The number of men having a tummy tuck - was up 47 per cent with 172 procedures carried out.