1,345,000 people in the UK have significant disfigurement to their face or body


There are over one million people in the UK who have a disfigurement to their face and/or body.

Not all of these individuals will have an associated functional impairment. Disfigurements can have a disabling effect on people’s lives due to others’ negative attitudes, stereotypes and low perceptions.

The word ‘disfigurement’ is used to describe the aesthetic effects of a mark, rash, scar or skin graft on a person’s skin or an asymmetry or paralysis to their face or body. Disfigurement can affect anyone at any time, at any age, from any ethnic group whether from birth, accident, disease or the aftermath of surgery.

Changing Faces commissioned a thorough search of all existing studies, data and websites to create a better estimate of the incidence and prevalence of disfiguring conditions (Julian D, and Partridge J, 2007). The aim of the survey was to establish a more accurate and sophisticated estimate of the incidence and prevalence* of significant disfigurement, based on reasonable and tough assumptions and differentiated by the medical causes of disfiguring conditions. Significance was taken as having ‘visibility’, ‘extent’ and ‘location’ dimensions.

The research reached the following conclusions:

  • 542,000 (or one in 111) people in the UK have a significant disfigurement to the face
  • 92,000 have congenital or birth conditions like birthmarks, cleft lips/palates
  • 66,000 have disfigurements from accidents such as burns and facial scars
  • 40,000 have cancer-related disfigurements, from surgery for skin cancer
  • 100,000 have disfigurements from facial paralysis including from stroke
  • 220,000 have disfigurements related to skin conditions like psoriasis, vitiligo and acne
  • 1,345,000 (or one in 44) people have significant disfigurement to their face and body
  • 415,500 people are expected to acquire a significant facial disfigurement in the period of a year, some conditions being transient, some life-threatening.

Read more about the findings here.

* Incidence is defined as the proportion of new cases of a ‘disorder’ in a population in a specified time interval. Prevalence is defined as the proportion or number of people who have a given condition in a population at a specified point in time.