Reconstructive Plastic Surgery
People who get reconstructive surgery don’t need much motivation. Though changes in self-esteem may be forthcoming – consider the impact of a cleft palate being repaired – the driver for their procedures is medical.
The demographic includes people with tumors, women who have had mastectomies – breast reconstruction has risen by 29% since 2000. Reconstructive surgery is used to address conditions like carpal tunnel, rheumatoid arthritis and other injuries or deformities that affect the function of the hand.
Growing Number of Plastic Surgery Procedures
The primary reason for virtually every cosmetic procedures is to enhance appearance. But that decision can result in a better quality of life, driven by increased self-esteem and self-confidence that can lead to a positive change in professional and social interactions.
According to a study in 2013 by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, patients who had undergone cosmetic surgery felt happier with their bodies in overall. Their self-esteem was higher, they had less anxiety about their appearance and said they felt healthier after the procedure.
The data in ASPS 2018 report shows that the total number of cosmetic procedures in the U.S. – surgical and minimally invasive – has risen by 163% since 2000. When you factor in the economic impact of the recession from 2007 through 2009, that growth is even more dramatic.
According to ASPS, the total number of reconstructive surgeries did not increase between 2017 and 2018 in the U.S. There was a 4% rise in the burn care and an 8% increase in pelvic floor reconstruction – a restorative surgery for the collapse in the pelvic muscular structure, often a result of childbirth.
In today’s society, the perception of plastic surgery is often focused on the cosmetic. But the ability to restore some sense of normalcy in appearance and function to injured patients is a source of professional pride and personal satisfaction for many surgeons.
What’s Contributing to the Rise?
Technology is definitely a factor in the continuing growth of cosmetic surgeries and in-office procedures. New medical devices and techniques are continually being developed.
Botulinum Toxin Type A (Botox), which is by far the most popular minimally invasive cosmetic treatment, was only approved for cosmetic use by the FDA in 2002. Since that time, numerous new injectables have entered the marketplace – including dermal fillers that plump lips and smooth deep facial creases.
The rise of social media has opened up discussion about outcomes, convenience, cost and patient satisfaction. Medical professionals are able to share information online to educate people on their procedures, helping to frame expectations on risk and reward and sharing before and after photos.
Here are five factors that have significant influence on the growth of cosmetic surgery and minimally invasive procedures:
1. Social Media
This article began by noting that people in their forties were the largest growth demographic for cosmetic procedures, followed by millennials in their thirties. Both age groups tend to be prolific users of social media, especially millennials.
The shareable nature of social media content is highly regarded by most users. But for some, photos published online that they find less than flattering can kickstart interest in cosmetic surgery.
Another huge factor is celebrity influence. Lips like Kylie Jenner. Breasts like Cardi B. A butt like Kim Kardashian. Bella Thorne, who turned 21 in 2018, shared her chemical peel experience on social media. With massive numbers of followers, these social influencers inspire fans to follow in their footsteps.
2. Technological Advances
New devices, techniques and technologies continue to dominate the industry, often to the benefit of minimally invasive procedures. Lasers, fillers like Juvéderm or Cool Sculpting, the fat-freezing procedure that breaks up smaller areas of fat tissue for natural expulsion from the body are all recent advances that are already mainstream.
The innovations we can expect to see are exciting and have potential to positively impact patient quality of life. Ongoing 3D printing research has developed a tissue engineering technique that grows hair follicles. The FDA has recently approved the first bioabsorbable mesh that provides support for reconstructive surgeries and slowly dissolves.
Innovation will continue to thrive, increasing positive outcomes for consumers and offering patients more incentives to pursue cosmetic and surgical procedures.
This is an obvious driver behind the rise in minimally invasive cosmetic procedures. All cosmetic treatments, including surgeries, are elective – which means patients pay out of pocket.
Costs vary based on location, but it’s apparent that the expense of a surgical facelift versus a cosmetic injectable is radically different. Minimally invasive procedures don’t have downtime for recovery either – no time off from work, no loss of income. For patients, it’s a no brainer.
For the economics of the industry, this affordability is attracting a younger clientele in larger numbers. The logical expectation is a long-term relationship with patients that may not have been possible in previous years.
The stigma against cosmetic procedures is diminishing. American society values physical beauty, and cosmetic procedures that enhance their features or figures are no longer considered taboo.
This increased acceptance of new norms can definitely be tracked to online education regarding procedures, expectations and the ability to identify qualified medical practitioners. Social media is a resource for testimonials, including before and after photos.
What was once a punchline is now an accessible, affordable and widely used solution for younger women and men who want to improve their appearance.
5. Health Benefits
As have been discussed, cosmetic enhancements tend increase self-confidence, reduce anxiety in social and professional interactions and improve body image.
There are also physical health benefits from cosmetic and plastic surgery procedures. A rhinoplasty can be used to help patients breath more easily. Reconstructive surgery for carpal tunnel is a critical solution for people who regularly use computers.
Surgical removal of fat isn’t a cure for obesity, but can provide the motivation for changes in exercise and nutrition. Breast reduction reduces back pain and eliminates bra straps that cut into shoulders.
Who’s Getting Plastic Surgery?
Now that the “why” has been discussed, let’s look at the statistics behind patient demographics, as pulled from ASPS 2108 Plastic Surgery Statistics report.
All these data are related to cosmetic procedures, not reconstructive surgery.
How Many Women?
Women represent 92% of U.S. patients in 2018, for a total of 14.7 million procedures, up 2% from 2017. 1.5 million of those procedures were surgical, representing a rise of 1% from 2017 and 13.3 million were minimally invasive, an increase of 2%.
How Many Men?
Men represented 8% of U.S. patients in 2018, for total of 1.3 million procedures, a drop of 1% from the previous year. Of those, 215,000 were surgical and showed no loss or gain from 2017. The remaining 1.1 million procedures were minimally invasive, showing an off-trend decline of 2%.
How Many Teenagers?
Of all the patient age groups, teenagers make up the smallest demographic. Young people between the ages of 13 and 19 had a total of 227,000 procedures in 2018, down by 1%. Of that total, 65,000 were surgical procedures, also down by 1%. The remaining 162,000 minimally invasive procedures showed no change from the previous year.
Cosmetic Surgeries Compared by Country
How does cosmetic surgery in the U.S. stack up against other countries around the world? Americans lead globally with roughly 18.4% of procedures, worldwide, followed by Brazil with 10.4%
These data in the figure below are provided by International Society of the Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) for the year 2017.