Surgical Hiatus? Data Shows All Aesthetic Surgery Dipped in 2022

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The boom in aesthetic surgery during the pandemic surprised a lot of us. But between hunkering down, tightening up money-wise, and staring at our faces all day, it made sense that interest was rising in aesthetic surgeries. Now, though, the latest data from the Aesthetic Society has shown a slowdown in plastic surgeries across the board, down 12% from last year.

While nonsurgical treatments saw an increase in 2022 that carried the industry through the dip, we wanted to know what was behind this drop in aesthetic surgery.

Post-COVID Aesthetic Surgery

All over the country, plastic surgeons witnessed a sudden rise in procedures during and immediately after COVID-19 lockdowns, which drove growth in the industry for the past few years.

According to Tucson, AZ plastic surgeon Raman Mahabir, MD, you can’t chalk all that interest up to just having to use Zoom. “Everybody saw themselves on Zoom a lot during that time. That was certainly part of it,” Dr. Mahabir explains. “But people also had the time to recover from these procedures because they were working from home. That turns a tummy tuck into a few days of rest and then back to work, as opposed to having to stay home for a few weeks.”

These patients acted quickly both during and immediately after the height of the COVID pandemic, often getting more than one aesthetic surgery at the same time, pushing growth. But now, explains Campbell, CA plastic surgeon R. Laurence Berkowitz, MD most of those patients have completed the work they wanted to get done. “We have had some remarkable years of surgery during and after COVID because of pent up demand,” Dr. Berkowitz says. “But those people are gone, they’re done.”

And among those who are still pursuing aesthetic surgery, many are starting to return to the finer things in life, like travel, which eats into potential downtime.

“A lot of those people are out traveling again, and putting off procedures,” Dr. Berkowitz explains. “Now that they’re able to, they want to go out and see everything.”

Non-Surgical Results

The dip in surgical procedures this past year may also be related to the sheer popularity of nonsurgical treatments. According to Encino, CA plastic surgeon George Sanders, MD, many younger patients are looking to maintain their current look and prevent aging without surgical intervention. “Many young people don’t want the downtime that comes with surgery,” Dr. Sanders says. “And if they can achieve something that may not be as significant as surgery, but it’s still an improvement, they prefer that. They want to maintain their look without major intervention.”

That said, no one really expects aesthetic surgery to take a serious decline in popularity.

“I doubt this slow down will dip below pre-COVID levels,” Dr. Mahabir explains. “I think, if you look at the trend overtime, you’ll see a constant, steady increase in interest in cosmetic surgery. The pandemic was a surprising blip up, as many people who would have gotten surgeries over a period of years got them all done at once.”

“Even though our non-surgical options are getting better in terms of what result they deliver, we still don’t have anything that could replace a face or neck lift,” Dr. Sanders explains.

Economic Belt-Tightening

And of course, there’s the looming threat of economic instability.

“You know, Reagan said, ‘It’s the economy, stupid,'” Dr. Berkowitz explains. “If you’re paying $7 for gas or 20% more on your groceries, that eats into the discretionary income that you would use on aesthetic treatment or procedures.”

Any disposable income we were all able to save during COVID from not going out or from hoarding our government stimulus has long run dry, and as a result, we’re having to make different decisions about our aesthetic surgery and treatment.

Despite economic constraint, the past year of industry growth has shown that while we might be more considerate of how we’re spending our money, aesthetics is certainly a priority.

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