Cosmetic Procedures Surge Nearly 20% Post-Pandemic, Reveals Latest Stats

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The world of beauty and aesthetics is moving faster than we can keep up, and the latest American Society of Plastic Surgeons Statistics for 2022 reveal some fascinating insights into the most sought-after cosmetic and reconstructive procedures. In a year marked by the ongoing influence of social media, a shifting post-pandemic landscape, and an increased emphasis on self-care, the trends are suggestive of what’s to come. Let’s delve into the numbers and hear from top plastic surgeons to decode the cosmetic trends.

American Society of Plastic Surgeons Statistics: A Surge in Cosmetic Procedures

The 2022 American Society of Plastic Surgeons statistics report reveals that cosmetic surgeries in the United States have surged, boasting a remarkable 19 percent increase since 2019. This upward trend speaks volumes about society’s evolving perceptions of beauty and self-improvement. Dr. Gregory A. Greco, president of ASPS, believes that this momentum can be largely attributed to societal acceptance and the impact of social media.

Dr. Greco notes, “A broader societal acceptance, and the undeniable influence of social media in shaping perceptions about these procedures” have played pivotal roles in this surge. The power of influencers on platforms like TikTok and Instagram cannot be underestimated, as they have contributed to the increasing popularity of cosmetic surgery.

Eyes and Lips Take Center Stage

We saw a fascinating shift in cosmetic priorities last year. With mask-wearing still prevalent in the early part of 2022, there was a notable emphasis on the eyes. Eyelid surgery surged to become one of the top five procedures, experiencing a 13 percent increase since 2019.

Dr. Greco explains, “Interestingly, as masks became less prominent, lip augmentations gained traction—this trend was likely amplified by influencers on platforms like TikTok and Instagram.” The power of influencers in reshaping beauty ideals is evident, and the shift from eyes to lips highlights the dynamic nature of aesthetic preferences.

The Rise of Minimally Invasive Treatments

One of the most striking trends we keep seeing in the industry is the substantial growth in minimally invasive treatments. Dr. Greco emphasizes, “There’s been a notable trend towards minimally invasive treatments. Their relative affordability coupled with the allure of subtle, yet impactful enhancements have made them increasingly popular.” Social media continues to be a driving force in creating awareness and interest in these treatments, further reshaping the beauty landscape.

Why the Surgical Surge?

The post-pandemic era saw a renewed focus on body image. With many individuals grappling with “COVID weight,” plastic surgery emerged as a valuable ally in targeting specific areas. Liposuction procedures rose in popularity by 23 percent, aligning with the trend of individuals seeking solutions for stubborn areas.

“I think that a lot of this is still a reaction to what I call the the post Covid era. People felt a loss of control,” says New York plastic surgeon Aviva Preminger, MD. “They couldn’t exercise or dress up, and now they are embracing the opportunity to look their best. A lot of people gained weight with Covid, and are either rewarding themselves for taking it off, or have given up trying and are seeking assistance to do so.”

Tucson, AZ plastic surgeon Raman Mahabir, MD says, “The pandemic saw some less healthy eating and drinking habits as well as reduced access and use of exercise facilities leading to an increase in body mass for many during the pandemic. As life returns to normal, more people are looking for a little ‘help’ getting back to their pre-COVID bodies.”

According to La Jolla, CA plastic surgeon Robert Singer, MD, during the pandemic, there was a decrease in procedures, but this decrease may be artificial due to accumulating demand. “The year before, there was that all that pent up demand of people who didn’t have procedures during the pandemic, and they have come and had their procedures, but the growth has actually been consistent over the last two decades.”

Breast Reductions: A Holistic Approach

Perhaps one of the most intriguing revelations from the 2022 ASPS report is the 54 percent increase in breast-reduction procedures. “The marked increase in breast reductions mirrors the broad societal shifts we’ve witnessed in the wake of the pandemic,” says Dr. Greco. “The last few years are a period characterized by profound introspection, and many have reevaluated their personal comfort, health, and overall well-being. Financially, we observed patients diverting expenditures that traditionally went to dining and travel towards healthcare decisions, such as elective surgeries they had perhaps have considered for many years.”

“This can be covered by insurance as well as privately for cosmetic procedures, and patients had the time to pursue it,” notes Louisville, KY plastic surgeon M. Bradley Calobrace, MD. “I also have seen a trend towards smaller breasts—through breast lifts, reductions and fat grafting—using implants less than in the past.”

“I have a theory that more young women are developing with larger breasts because of the more hormonally controlled processed foods in our diets,” adds Chicago plastic surgeon Michael A. Epstein, MD. “Secondly, more women are much more physically active than ever before.  When you combine these two plausible facts, you create a scenario where there is a greater desire for breast reduction surgery.”  

A Filler Revolution

Noninvasive procedures, such as neuromodulator injections and hyaluronic acid fillers witnessed substantial growth in 2022. Driven by increasing public understanding and acceptance, these nonsurgical treatments became more popular, thanks in part to the COVID-induced surge in social media usage.

Dr. Grand Rapids, MI plastic surgeon Bradley Bengtson, MD highlights the release of safer and more effective fillers, saying, “No more test doses. Fillers are getting better and better, making them safer to use with fewer complications.” The temporary nature of these treatments appeals to patients who seek subtle enhancements without the long-term commitment of surgery.

As we wrap up 2023, the trends identified in the 2022 American Society of Plastic Surgeons Statistics report continue to shape the world of aesthetics. The acceptance of cosmetic surgery, the power of social media influencers, and the demand for minimally invasive treatments are expected to remain at the forefront. 

Newport Beach, CA plastic surgeon Sanjay Grover, MD notes, “My general impression as to why we have seen a tremendous increase in demand is that many people were home from work post-COVID and had the time to seek aesthetic procedures as they were not spending their money until this summer. Many people are spending time on video conference calls and are seeing themselves in a new light which may not be so flattering.” This self-awareness could continue to drive interest in cosmetic procedures.

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