London: Increasing number of middle-aged Kiwis are lining up for cosmetic surgery to compete with their younger colleagues in the workplace, plastic surgeons say.

Real estate and media professionals are at the head of the queue for nose jobs, facelifts and botox treatment. Plastic surgeons report a rise in the number of procedures among people working in areas where appearance might be deemed important.

They say their clients are increasingly seeking "office" facelifts to look young in competitive workplaces. Association of Plastic Surgeons president, Christchurch's Howard Klein, said there had been a general increase in non-surgical treatments such as Botox and fillers, and an "increasing acceptance of cosmetic procedures in general as a social phenomenon".

"As cosmetic procedures have become more acceptable we have seen an increase in people feeling they need to look their best because of workplace competition," a website quoted Klein as saying.

"There has been an increase, mostly because of non-surgical treatments. I suspect it's influenced by media, internet, reality TV and a perception that cosmetic surgery is not just for the rich and famous," he added.

Ministry of Health elective prioritisation clinical adviser Chris McEwan said people undergoing procedures were not necessarily those who could afford it and noted, "Many people are borrowing money to have work done."

But, he said, some saw it as an economic decision because it could help further their careers. He said a trend identified by US sociologist Laurie Essig, that more than 85 per cent of patients went into debt to get work done, is happening in New Zealand.

The number of practitioners offering treatments had grown by about 25 per cent in the past five years, he said and, although the number of young people having surgery was still small, about 80 a year, under-20s were increasingly asking for rhinoplasty (nose jobs) to change their appearance.

"It is a very obvious and disturbing trend. They see their noses as the most prominent area on the body, and there is increasing sensitivity among young people about the way they look," McEwan said.

(Agencies)