Why Plastic Surgery Has Gone Up 10.2% Since the Start of the Pandemic

Why Plastic Surgery Has Gone Up 10.2% Since the Start of the Pandemic featured image
Fleur Kaan on Unsplash

When I had my breast reduction in 2022, I had no idea I was part of a growing trend. The COVID-19 pandemic, a major life event for all of us, unexpectedly became a catalyst for many to undergo plastic surgery. With canceled travel plans and remote work becoming the norm, many of us found ourselves with the time and motivation to make changes we’d wanted to make for years. For me, the surgery was a way to regain control and find a bit of happiness in uncertain times.

Featured Experts

  • Dr. Kiya Movassaghi is a board-certified plastic surgeon and president of The Aesthetic Society
  • Dr. Sanjay Grover is a board-certified plastic surgeon based in Newport Beach, CA
  • Dr. Bradley Bengtson is a board-certified plastic surgeon based in Grand Rapids, MI
  • Dr. Paul Afrooz is a board-certified facial plastic surgeon based in Miami
  • Dr. Leo R. McCafferty is a board-certified plastic surgeon in Pittsburgh

The Surge in Plastic Surgery Post-Pandemic

I wasn’t alone. The Aesthetic Society’s annual Aesthetic Plastic Surgery National Databank report for 2023 reveals that plastic surgery procedures have risen 10.2 percent since 2019.

“We saw a significant increase in the number of surgical and nonsurgical aesthetic procedures being performed post-pandemic until the end of 2023,” says Newport Beach, CA, plastic surgeon Sanjay Grover, MD. “Many people were home post-COVID and had more time for self-reflection. Additionally, we saw a huge increase in demand because patients had much more disposable income as they weren’t traveling and decided to fix up their home, face, or body.”

From year to year, there was a modest 2.9 percent rise in demand from 2022 to 2023. “The landscape of aesthetic plastic surgery continues to evolve as evidenced by our annual report,” says Dr. Kiya Movassaghi, president of The Aesthetic Society. “Surgical procedures are maintaining strong performance and as our previous reports have shown, nonsurgical treatments are steadily rising.”

Grand Rapids, MI, plastic surgeon Dr. Bradley Bengtson says, “What the numbers show is like what we’ve seen with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ recent trend report. New products and technology continue to drive interest and hopefully, we will see less inflation in the future and more disposable income. I personally believe there is a growing trend toward natural and proportional and away from overdone and over-operated.”

What We Want Most

Among the key findings are that liposuction, breast augmentation and tummy tucks are the most sought-after procedures for women, especially those under 50. This demand is partly driven by the effects of the success of weight-loss medications, prompting patients to undergo body-contouring procedures.

For those aged 51 and up, eyelid surgery becomes more popular, replacing breast enhancements in the top three. Among patients over 65, facelifts take the top spot. “Patients today are more informed, and they have higher expectations for natural, elegant results. They want to look like themselves, but refreshed and more healthy,” says Miami facial plastic surgeon Paul Afrooz, MD. “This surge pushes us, as surgeons, to continuously refine our techniques and stay at the forefront of innovation to deliver the best possible outcomes while maintaining the highest standards of safety. It’s exciting to see this growth, as it also reflects the increasing trust and confidence patients have in our expertise.”

For men, the top procedures include gynecomastia (breast reduction), liposuction and nose surgery. “We are seeing increases in all male procedures, from gynecomastia and male breast surgery to liposuction and facial surgery,” notes Dr. Bengtson. “We see continued strong demand for surgical procedures, particularly higher-cost ones like facial rejuvenation, as many of these patients have more financial resources.”

What Happens Next

As plastic surgery trends upward, the question arises: Will it plateau, or signify a lasting cultural shift? Dr. Bengtson predicts ongoing demand. According to Pittsburgh plastic surgeon Leo R. McCafferty, MD, we anticipate more surgical and noninvasive procedures: “Surveys often separate nonsurgical from surgical options, but they complement each other. It’s no surprise to see steady growth in both.”

For now, time will tell if it remains a popular choice for taking care of oneself as we move into a new, post-pandemic normal.

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