U.S. plastic surgery, cosmetic spending hits record $15 billion

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Young women wanting to stop the aging process and baby boomers aiming to reverse it are turning more to fillers, facelifts and other procedures that drove the plastic surgery industry revenue to a record $15 billion last year, an industry organization said on Wednesday.

Post and pre-injection medications sit on a shelf at a walk-in Botox salon in New York July 17, 2007. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Spending on plastic surgery in the United States for non-medical purposes and other cosmetic procedures, such as Botox and lip injections, rose 11 percent in 2016, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, an organization with 2,600 plastic surgeon members, said in a statement.

The rise can be attributed to younger generations seeking to keep their youthful looks and baby boomers attempting to stay competitive in the workplace by appearing young, the group said.

Cincinnati-based psychologist Ann Kearney-Cooke, who specializes in treating women with body dysmorphic disorder, plastic surgery addiction and other disorders, said social media has added pressure to women striving to meet a standard of beauty defined by looking young.

“There’s a constant flow of photos and people often compare themselves to others,” Kearney-Cooke said. “They think, ‘I’m getting too old. My eyes are too droopy’.”

As cosmetic procedures continue to be promoted on television shows like “Botched” and in celebrity selfies, plastic surgery has become more mainstream and increasingly acceptable to younger generations, she said.

“There’s so many people having plastic surgery that we feel that we’re inferior if we aren’t,” Kearney-Cooke said.

Advocates of plastic surgery to enhance appearance say it is a useful tool in boosting confidence, and physical and mental health. But the practice has also been linked to psychological problems.

A 2011 Norwegian Social Research study of 1,597 people over 13 years old found adolescent girls and young women who underwent cosmetic plastic surgery were more likely to suffer depression, alcoholism and other disorders.

Still, surgeons last year performed about 1 million liposuctions, breast augmentations and tummy tucks, the three most popular forms of plastic surgery, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery said.

Surgeries accounted for 56 percent of last year’s cosmetic procedures, while non-invasive practices, including injectable fillers and chemical peels, made up the other 44 percent, the group said.

The procedures are not only becoming more abundant, they are also becoming more nuanced.

Labiaplasty, where the size of a woman’s external genitalia is surgically reduced, is one of the fastest-growing new cosmetic procedures, second only to breast implants using fat instead of silicone or saline.

Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by James Dalgleish