LONDON (Reuters) - Cosmetic surgery is altering not just how people look but how they feel by changing perceptions of middle age, a study showed on Monday.
Global research group AC Nielsen surveyed people in 42 countries and found 60 percent of Americans, the world's biggest consumers of cosmetic surgery and anti-ageing skincare, believe their sixties are the new middle age.
On a global scale, three out of five consumers believed forties was the new thirties.
"Our forties are being celebrated as the decade where we can be comfortable and confident in both personal and financial terms. The majority of global consumers really believe life starts at forty," AC Nielsen Europe President and CEO Frank Martell said.
But that doesn't mean they want to look their age.
Healthier eating, longer lifespans and higher disposable incomes have helped to hold back the years. However, for many people the biggest boost is coming from the surgeon's scalpel, the survey found.
Confirming Russians' status among the world's biggest consumers of luxury goods, 48 percent of them, the highest percentage globally, said they would consider cosmetic surgery to maintain their looks. One in three Irish consumers, 28 percent of Italians and Portuguese, and one in four U.S., French and British consumers felt the same.
"Cosmetic surgery has become more acceptable and financially it's become affordable. Our mothers might have gone to Tupperware parties but this generation is more likely to be invited to Botox parties," Martell said.
With wrinkle-buster botox now considered mainstream, Martell's tip for the next beauty trend was fat-removing liposuction in your lunch break.
"Lunchtime 'lipo' is likely to become the next cosmetic "special" on the menu," he said.
AC Nielsen's findings underline how a quest for youth has created one of the world's fastest growing businesses.
Cosmetic surgery surged 35 percent in Britain in 2005 compared with a year earlier, data showed from The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons.
Top sellers in the U.K. are botox at 400 pounds, eye surgery at 5,000 pounds and combined face and eyelift at 8,000 pounds.
"We're seeing more and more facial procedures, particularly people having their eyes done, we are getting people of all ages, even people in their eighties are getting surgery to refresh them," said Douglas McGeorge, president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons.
Those who blanch at the idea of going under the knife are fuelling another boom with sales of anti-ageing skincare the fastest growing in the skincare business, AC Nielsen said.
And to tap that multibillion dollar seam, companies are scrambling to discover ever more unusual products.
French beauty group Clarins will launch in January what it says is the world's first spray to protect skin from the electromagnetic radiation created by mobile phones and electronic devices like laptops.
It says the spray contains molecules derived from microorganisms living near undersea volcanoes and from plants which survive in extreme conditions such as alongside motorways and in Siberia.
(Additional reporting by Nick Antonovics in Paris)