With our culture’s growing obsession with beauty and anatomical perfection, it would be a safe bet to say that plastic surgery has been a booming medical institution since the late ’80s. Getting a kickstart from shows like Baywatch and coasting into the 21st century on programs like Keeping up with the Kardashians, plastic surgery has the most inherently public and perfect marketing system, especially with the added help of the problem of aging.

Cosmetic Surgery Since 1997

Cosmetic medicine is one of the most rapidly growing medical disciplines in the world. Since 1997, the field has seen dramatic improvements in how it treats its patients, and continues to increase the number of patients, themselves.


Plastic Surgery Amidst Economic Distress

But despite being increasingly bombarded with images of curvy bodies and timeless faces, cosmetic surgery wasn’t always as prosperous as it is typically perceived. In fact, we are almost a decade removed from the apex of plastic surgery’s history: in 2004 Americans alone underwent nearly 12 million plastic surgeries ranging from liposuction to rhinoplasty. But ike many other service areas in the mid ’00s, the plastic surgery suffered from the economic downturn, and many of its proponents were finding it difficult to acquire the funds necessary for their transformations.

A 2010 New York Times article investigating the then-decreasing plastic surgery numbers noted that many patients would use special lines of credit to subsidize their procedures. The author continued to say that some even “took out second mortgages on their homes”. The enormous financial restrictions brought on by the economic collapse prevented these people from using quick credit to afford their new bodies, so many surgery enthusiasts were forced to either save up or give up when it came to their procedures. Fortunately, developments in the field would open up other excellent opportunities for patients everywhere.

Widespread financial stress naturally impacted the numbers of major “open” surgical procedures, so patients turned to non-invasive methods of cosmetic medicine. Procedures like Botox and Juvederm could still offer some anti-aging assistance, without requiring the patient to pay for the additional costs associated with a full surgery. Not to mention, these types of injectable medications began to improve quickly, and could offer similar effects to a procedure like a facelift with no downtime and minimal cost. This resulted in an exploding market for injectable medicine; Botox has since become the undisputed leader of the cosmetic competition for most annual procedures – Americans received over 6 million Botox injections in 2012.

Plastic Surgery:

Over the past decade and a half, the attention of patients has gone from facial procedures to procedures that address the lower anatomy.


The Changing Face of Plastic Surgery

Nevertheless, the numbers of conventional surgery are rapidly growing once again, and in 2012 have finally reached a point comparable to the 2004 surgery peak. But even though the surgeon’s offices (and tables) are full again, the landscape of procedures doesn’t quite look the same as it did before: facial surgeries like rhinoplasty and facelifts have dropped by a few thousand procedures a year, with liposuction and blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) plummeting by over a hundred thousand. Obviously Botox is encouraging patients to forgo facial surgeries in exchange for a few regular injections, but plastic surgeons believe that other new developments in the field are responsible for these drastic statistical changes.

Non-Invasive Treatments

Many doctors are citing procedures like the great new Ultherapy treatment for this shift in procedural trends. Ultherapy can replicate the results of several face procedures with the use of ultrasonic waves rather than a scalpul and suction device. By penetrating the deepest layers of skin, Ultherapy promises to activate natural collagen production in the face, allowing the patient to enjoy months of tighter, more youthful looking skin. Totally non-invasive procedures like these are being praised for their quick results and minimal recovery time. While an artistically-executed facelift from a plastic surgeon can provide you with an age-defying appearance for years, the Ultherapy treatment offers an excellent cosmetic opportunity for patients who are merely seeking a tune-up.

Transforming Classic Procedures

Still, flagship procedures like breast augmentation have recovered, and are being buttressed by shifts in medical technology. For instance, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons repored that 62% of all breast augmentations performed in 2012 were done with silicone implants – the other 38% were performed with saline. Compare that to 2006 when only about 19% of procedures used silicone implants. This was following the FDA’s 14-year ban on silicone implants due to their potential for rupturing, forcing saline implants to bear the sole responsibilities for breast augmentation. Now, silicone implants are safer than ever, and seven years after the ban has been lifted silicone implants seem to have emerged as the preferred device in many augmentation cases. Additionally, silicone implants currently come in a new form: the Sientra High-Strength Cohesive Gel Implants (called “Gummy Bear Implants” by patients), which feel more realistic and look more natural than any implant on the market. With the new implant technology, women have even more options when it comes to improving their bodies.

A Full Recovery

With a respectable recoup of patients, plastic surgery is back on track to return to its former state, but this time with a few tech-oriented additions (like the Sientra implants and Ultherapy). It’s also becoming clear which types of procedures seem resilient to environmental factors, and have remained strong despite cultural and economic shifts. In fact, it’s possible that in the next few years plastic surgery will surpass even its greatest annual numbers, though the field of medicine, itself, will have undergone a bit of a facelift. Visit our offices today to see what A New Reflection is doing to stay ahead of the curve in plastic surgery culture.