If you’re above a certain age, you can probably remember a time not too long ago when plastic surgery procedures were considered scandalous, hush-hush affairs, reserved for only the most rich and famous in society. But today, what was once largely fodder for gossips and checkout-aisle tabloid magazines has become so commonplace, it’s hard to imagine plastic surgery ever raised a perfectly-groomed eyebrow.
Here in the United States, surgery procedures have seen growth every year for the past several years, growing in popularity among younger and younger patients, a move which has been largely attributed to the social media “selfie” culture. Recently, the International Study on Aesthetic/Cosmetic Procedures released its annual report on who’s having which procedures around the globe. But while the results may surprise the average person, they come as no surprise to many American plastic surgeons.
“I think the most surprising statistic for me was the number of procedures done in the United States last year,” said Dr. Bruce Chau, Berkeley, Michigan-based plastic surgeon. “The United States was ranked number one with over 4.2 million procedures conducted here last year. That’s nearly double the amount of Brazil conducted in Brazil, which came in second.”
Other surprising data revealed by the ISAPS study include the age of the patients.
“The number one age group for most procedures was the 19-34-year age group, with the 35-50-year group coming in second,” explained Chau. “It’s a surprising statistic because, in years past, plastic surgery was often considered an older person’s solution.”
Today, however, Chau believes many factors like surgery financing, celebrity culture and of course, social media are all introducing plastic surgery to a younger demographic.
“The procedures we’re seeing in the top spots are still the same procedures that take those spots year after year,” said Chai. “Breast augmentation, rhinoplasty and abdominoplasty are still the top three surgical procedures, but I think younger women are realizing they don’t need to wait until they’re empty nesters or nearing retirement to have the body they’ve always wanted.”
Other less-invasive procedures that took top spots in 2016 include Botox and fillers.
“Botox was the one procedure that ranked higher among the 35-50-year age group than it did in the 19-34, which makes sense because most 19 to 34-year olds are not yet dealing with fine lines and wrinkles,” said Chau.
As for fillers like hyaluronic acid, they grew in popularity in the United States by more than half a million users in 2016, presumably due to that selfie-culture.
“Millennials are following celebrities on Instagram and wishing they had fuller lips or cheekbones in their own photos,” Chau said. “Hyaluronic acid fillers are a relatively fast and easy way to achieve that look without spending a ton of money.”
Other procedures that are increasing in popularity include non-invasive fat reduction treatments like Coolsculpting and Kybella, which experts expect to increase tremendously in 2017.