Plastic surgery has been booming in the past decade.
Pop culture and social media helped to influence a new generation of people being proud and transparent about cosmetic enhancements.
But in 2020, things took a dip.
Hospitals and centers closed, staff members were laid off and elective surgeries came to a halt.
However, the plastic surgery industry bounced back strong.
Americans working from home spent hours and hours watching themselves on camera, endlessly scrolling on social media and experiencing inevitable downtime from work and social events.
This all but benefited the plastic surgery industry, which saw a record number of patients as pandemic restrictions were lifted”.
So just how long will the plastic surgery boom last?
And with a new normal taking shape, what does the future look like for the industry?
Born in Virginia in 1787, Dr. John Peter Mettauer is widely recognized as America’s first plastic surgeon.
But it was World War I that catapulted the plastic surgery industry into new realms.
Extensive face and head injuries from war required physicians to innovate, while advances in blood transfusions, anesthesia and antiseptics allowed doctors to experiment with new techniques.
By the 1960s, plastic surgery for purely cosmetic purposes was becoming more common.
Procedures that were originally designed as medical treatments saw an uptick in patients getting them to enhance their appearance.
For example, Botox was first approved by the FDA as a treatment for crossed eyes, but doctors soon realized those injection areas didn’t have wrinkles.
As Baby Boomers began to age, they wanted to appear younger and cosmetic procedures outpaced reconstructive ones.
The 90s was also an era where doctors fought hard to dismantle the stigma that was associated with plastic surgery. There was a growing public perception amid some sensationalized stories that these surgeries were high risk.
And in 1992, the FDA issued a moratorium on silicone breast implants following growing fears that the implants were unsafe.
But things soon took a turn, including health care reform.
After extensive lobbying in 1998, President Bill Clinton signed a bill into law, allowing reconstructive surgery to be covered by health insurance.
And by 2005, cosmetic procedures almost doubled over reconstructive ones.
In 2020 over 24 million cosmetic procedures were performed worldwide.
But it was the U.S. that had the highest number of both surgical and non-surgical treatments, leading the way with over 4,600,000 procedures.
Brazil comes in second, often serving as a destination for hopeful plastic surgery candidates around the globe. They are three different categories when it comes to cosmetic plastic surgery.
There are surgical procedures, noninvasive type procedures, and then there are injectables and fillers.
The most common plastic surgery performed in the U.S. is breast augmentation, followed by liposuction and eyelid surgery.
Botox was the number one non-surgical procedure worldwide.
Although plastic surgery, like any surgery, carries risks.
The vast majority of patients in the U.S. are satisfied with their results.
In 2019 98 percent of those who got breast augmentation and 97 percent of those who got a tummy tuck said they’d do it again.
Plastic surgery is a hefty investment.
The average cost of breast augmentation is $4,789.
And Americans pay on average $7,944 for a facelift.
Cost barriers do motivate many to travel to other parts of the country or even the world in order to save money on their dream procedure.
But that isn’t always the best route.
Plastic surgeries can go horribly wrong, as seen on the reality TV show ‘Botched.’ A 2018 study found that 0.78 % of plastic surgeries have complications, including infection, pulmonary embolism and organ damage.
Going under the knife has always carried some sort of stigma.
Many celebrities, including Kylie Jenner, Tyra Banks and Lady Gaga, notoriously spoke out against plastic surgery and later came clean about getting some cosmetic work done.
But a few things have changed the negative perception of cosmetic treatments, namely pop culture and social media. What was once seen as a denial of self, shifted into a popular and accepted trend for everyday people.
Another thing helping to change the narrative around aesthetic procedures is the introduction of ethnic plastic surgery.
The 90s and early 2000s was an era of extreme plastic surgery transformations, often leading to a lot of criticism aimed at the patient.
Doctors now say the key to a successful procedure is subtle changes while maintaining the patient’s ethnic identity.
The plastic surgery boom has also coincided with society’s new emphasis on wellness.
Today, more Americans are focusing on self-care and the needs of the individual.
The Covid-19 pandemic shook the industry.
The total number of cosmetic procedures decreased by 1.8 percent in 2020 compared to 2019, but that’s mainly due to hospital and center closures, not demand.
Experts point to a phenomenon called the ‘Zoom effect’ or the ‘Zoom boom.’ Covid limitations shifted in-person meetings and social events to video calls, meaning more people became hyper-critical of their facial features.
That dissatisfaction led to a much higher interest in plastic surgery above-the-shoulder.
According to a study by ASPS, 11 % of women surveyed said they were more interested in cosmetic procedures a year into the pandemic than they were prior to it.
That number goes up to 25 percent for women who’ve already had a procedure.
Some patients are motivated by the down time spent at home.
An increase in work-from-home policies across U.S. employers allows patients to fully recover at home while saving PTO.
Others are motivated by the ability to recover in plain sight.
More and more people are getting procedures done on features that are covered by their mask.
However, the opposite is also having a moment.
Doctors say they’re seeing more patients getting work done above-the-nose, since those features are highlighted when wearing a mask.
Another big influence due to Covid?
Doctors say the future of plastic surgery is plastic surgery.
And some of the changes the industry has seen are here to stay.
And with cosmetic treatments becoming more advanced, more affordable and less taboo, the Covid-19 boom is just the beginning.
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