Why are Americans spending more than ever on plastic surgery?

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223,018 Nose Reshaping Procedures in 2016

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Americans spent more than ever on cosmetic surgery last year. In fact, the cost for the hundreds of thousands of procedures that were performed in 2016 exceeded $16 billion dollars.

Breast implants and other types of breast augmentation surgeries topped the list, followed by liposuction and nose shaping procedures. The actual figures for the more common types of procedures include:

  • Breast augmentation: 290,467 procedures
  • Liposuction: 235,237 procedures
  • Nose reshaping: 223,018 procedures
  • Tummy tuck: 127,633 procedures
  • Buttock augmentation: 18,489 procedures

Less invasive procedures are rapidly gaining in popularity. The 2016 figures for some of these are:

  • Wrinkle treatment injections: 7 million procedures
  • Hyaluronic acid fillers: 2 million procedures
  • Chemical peel: 1.3 million procedures
  • Microdermabrasion: 775,014 procedures
  • Laser treatments: 656,781 procedures

Obviously, what was once the province of celebrities and the wealthy has become more mainstream. With advances in overall safety and accessibility of medical care, it’s not surprising that the number of people seeking cosmetic surgery would rise, but that cannot explain these kinds of numbers. What are the other factors contributing to this dramatic increase?

In the not too distant past, having “some work done” was something that was done as secretly as possible. There was a certain stigma attached to any sort of elective surgery where the purpose was to alter appearance. It was okay to have rhinoplasty surgery to alleviate breathing issues by repairing a deviated septum, but changing the shape or reducing the size of the nose to look more attractive was a totally different thing. That has certainly changed. Even many celebrities are open about procedures they are having done. And, as for everyone else, the stigma is all but gone. Any doubt of that can be dispelled by looking through the countless social media posts that document individuals’ progress with more before and after photos than you would think anyone would ever care to see.

There is also far less trauma involved today than there was in the past. Instead of several days in the hospital followed by a lengthy recovery time at home, many procedures take only a few hours and are done in the doctor’s office. The bruising, swelling and level of discomfort have also been reduced.

Perhaps the best explanation for why we are seeking surgical procedures to improve our appearance is as simple as “because we can”. We now have the technology and level of acceptance to make cosmetic surgery a viable choice. We live in a world that seems to spin a bit faster every day and we recognize that we need to embrace whatever is available to give ourselves the best opportunity to live full and productive lives. Appearance not only makes a difference in our social interactions, but it also inspires or undermines our level of confidence on the job. Fair or not, it can make the difference in having a successful career or one in which we simply get by.

If what has become a safe and fairly simple procedure can give us such a major advantage, why would we not embrace it?

Cosmetic procedures, including rhinoplasty, are expected to continue to increase. Consumers are urged to do their research and choose only the most qualified and experienced surgeons. Debra Johnson, President, American Society of Plastic Surgeons, urged, “Before you undergo any procedure, make sure you’re putting yourself in the hands of only the most qualified and highly trained plastic surgeons. The cost of any procedure is not nearly as important as doing your homework and selecting a surgeon whose primary focus is your safety.”

Article by
Englewood Facial Plastic Surgeon