Plastic Surgery in Today’s Economy

Anand D. Patel, MD

Article by
Austin Facial Plastic Surgeon

We have all felt the weight of a depressed economy now and during the past few years, and it is not surprising that spending on luxury items has significantly declined. While the recession officially began in December of 2007 and ended in June 2009 (National Bureau of Economic Research), many are still reluctant to dip into their savings for plastic surgery. Cosmetic plastic surgery has taken a major hit with a record number of ‘for rent’ signs in Beverly Hills and the like.

Even in trying times, there is always room for optimism. The economy has improved somewhat, albeit at a snail’s pace, and the demand for plastic surgery has rebounded this past year. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the number of cosmetic procedures grew 5% from 12.5 million in 2009 to 13.1 million in 2010. This growth was especially seen in non-surgical procedures such as botulinum toxin and soft tissue fillers. Surgery has improved a small amount, by about 2%, perhaps as consumers recognize that a larger up-front investment may be less costly in the long run.

And while plastic surgery is once again gaining popularity, the number of cosmetic procedures across the country still remains below levels attained before the recession. On the one hand, it seems that plastic surgery would be a lagging indicator of economic improvement, but recent studies in plastic surgery journals have suggested that it may in fact be a leading indicator as it seems to follow stock market indices.

Perhaps this means that, for many, plastic surgery is not just a luxury item, but a necessary tool for increasing competitiveness socially and in the workplace. To ignore the fact that beauty and youth are often consciously or subconsciously associated with value and success is to be blind to the realities of modern society. Also, the vast population of baby boomers will inevitably ramp up demand as improvements in products and technologies will make looking younger easier and more accessible. Despite economic fluctuations, it seems demand for plastic surgery will continue to grow.