Personal finance reporter
Americans apparently don’t like what they see when they look in the mirror, and they’re keeping plastic surgeons busier than ever. Cosmetic surgery procedures jumped 11% in 2017, and patients shelled out more than $6.5 billion to combat drooping eyelids, sagging derrieres, plump thighs and other perceived imperfections, according to new data from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, a trade organization.
Some of the procedures that saw the biggest surges in popularity in 2017 were eyelid surgery, buttock augmentation, fat transfer to the face, facelifts, and neck lifts and upper arm lifts. Meanwhile, others have become less popular. Chin augmentation has dropped 10% since 2012, as doctors say patients request fillers as an alternative, and nose jobs have fallen 43% since 2000.
But there were some blockbuster procedures last year:
Women are focusing on a below-the-belt area
The procedure that saw the biggest jump in popularity between 2012 and 2017 isn’t for the faint of heart. Labiaplasty, which involves altering women’s nether regions, soared 217%, more than any other procedure by far. (The second biggest increase over that same period was for buttock lifts, which shot up 98%.)
The reason? “Women are seeing more of their anatomy because they don’t have hair blocking their anatomy,” said Dr. Grant Stevens, a board certified plastic surgeon in Marina Del Rey, Calif. and president-elect of the ASAPS. The average cost for the procedure was $2,720 last year.
The facelift is alive and well
Though the rise in popularity of Botox and other injectable treatments to smooth wrinkles can make the old-fashioned facelift seem passé, they’re anything but. The procedure jumped by 21.9% in 2017. “The facelift is not dead,” said Stevens, who’s been a cosmetic surgeon since 1986. “I’m doing more facelifts now than ever in my life. It’s more accepted in society for both men and women.” It’s not cheap — the average cost in 2017 was $7,562.
Men are getting nipped and tucked too
Men accounted for 7.7% of cosmetic surgeries in 2017. Their top five surgical procedures were liposuction (average cost $3,279), eyelid surgery ($3,239), breast reduction ($3,779), tummy tucks ($6,083) and facelifts ($7,562). Men first started getting their noses fixed in the 1800s, particularly Irish and Jewish men who didn’t want their noses to signal “racial degeneracy,” The Conversation reported. And men were key to advancements in plastic surgery during World War I, when surgeons were tasked with reconstructing battle-damaged faces.
Breast implants are coming out, but not for the reason you think
Breast implant removals were up slightly (3.7%) in 2017. Most of those patients (67%) are taking out their implants so they could replace them with new ones, a spokeswoman for ASAPS said. Among those patients, 36% got bigger implants, and 23% replaced them with smaller ones. Removals cost an average of $2,745.
“Breast reductions are consistently reported as one of the highest patient satisfaction procedures because it positively affects a woman’s quality of life. It addresses both functional and aesthetic concerns,” said Jeffrey E. Janis, president of American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Breast reductions are also popular with men, but they pay less for it: $3,779 compared to $5,634 for women.
What’s driving the boom in nips and tucks?
Some say it’s a constant need to be selfie-ready, and others have even blamed Skype for making people more appearance-conscious.
Another factor: age discrimination in the workplace. “They don’t want to look older because they wear their resume on their face,” Stevens said. “What if you’re 50 years old and you’re looking for a job and you’re competing with a 25 or 30-year-old? What if you’re 45?”
Though it’s commonplace in celebrity-driven magazines and TV shows, plastic surgery is still relatively rare among the population at large: Only 4% of Americans say they’ve done it, according to a 2016 study by the Pew Research Center, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.