Plastic surgery reported up despite economy

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Published: Feb. 11, 2012 Updated: Feb. 13, 2012 4:08 p.m.


Anti-aging procedures that don’t involve going under the knife drove the growth of cosmetic medicine in 2011, a new report from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons says.

The plastic surgery market saw “signicant” growth for the second year in a row, the group says, with cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery each up 5%.

Article Tab: image1-Plastic surgery reported up despite economy

“While the rate of economic recovery in the U.S. is still uncertain, 2011 proved to be a good year for plastic surgery,” ASPS President Dr. Malcolm Z. Roth said.

Some local plastic surgeons in Orange County, one of the cosmetic medicine capitals, see things somewhat differently.

“Even though these statistics are derived from surveying our membership, I find them not totally credible,” said Dr. Edward Jonas Domanskis of Newport Beach. “In my experience, the total number of cosmetic surgery procedures, both surgical and non-surgical, has either decreased from the past year or stayed the same.”

Dr. John Di Saia of San Clemente and Orange took the report in stride.

“Things are looking up in the cosmetic surgery market but only slightly. 5% is not a major increase,” he said. “The larger procedures are still slow to return in large numbers. It is a sign of the economy.”

Another plastic surgeon said he thinks the statistics are spot on.

“The recent figures from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons on procedures performed in 2011 are consistent with the trends in my practice,” said Dr. Donald Altman of Irvine, adding, “… Despite the modest increase in procedures performed in 2011, consumers seeking cosmetic surgery continue to be very price sensitive.”

The ASPS says 13.8 million cosmetic plastic surgery procedures — both surgical and minimally-invasive such as Botox or filler injections — were performed in the United States in 2011.

Also, 5.5 million reconstructive plastic surgery procedures were performed last year, up 5%, as well.

Cosmetic surgery went up 2%, with nearly 1.6 million procedures in 2011, the ASPS said.

The top five surgical procedures were:

  • Breast augmentation (307,000 procedures, up 4%)
  • Nose reshaping (244,000 procedures, down 3%)
  • Liposuction (205,000 procedures, up 1%)
  • Eyelid surgery (196,000 procedures, down 6%)
  • Facelift (119,000 procedures, up 5%)

Facelifts were listed among the top five cosmetic surgical procedures for the first time since 2004, replacing tummy tucks.

“We are seeing notable increases in surgical procedures, such as facelifts, that reflect the demands of an aging boomer population,” Roth said. “However, the overall growth in cosmetic procedures is being primarily driven by a substantial rise in minimally-invasive procedures.”

Cosmetic minimally-invasive procedures increased 6%, with nearly 12.2 million procedures in 2011, according to the ASPS.

The top five minimally-invasive procedures were:

  • Botulinum toxin type A — mostly Botox (5.7 million procedures, up 5%)
  • Soft tissue fillers (1.9 million procedures, up 7%)
  • Chemical peel (1.1 million procedures, down 3%)
  • Laser hair removal (1.1 million procedures, up 15%)
  • Microdermabrasion (900,000 procedures, up 9%)

Soft tissue fillers like hyaluronic acid (such as Restylane and Juvederm Ultra), calcium hydroxylapatite (Radiesse), and fat injections had  some of the largest growth in the minimally-invasive market last year.

The ASPS said more than 1.3 million hylauronic acid procedures were performed in 2011, up 9%; 286,000 calcium hydroxylapatite procedures, up 36%; and 68,000 fat injections, up 19%.

Lip augmentation practically exploded — up 49%, with more than 25,000 procedures performed, according to the ASPS.

Procedures by gender will be released in upcoming weeks. But chin augmentation, a procedure the ASPS says is popular with men, nearly doubled in 2011, with 21,000 procedures performed, up 71%, according to the organization.

Here’s some more from Orange County plastic surgeons:

Dr. Terry Dubrow of Newport Beach:

“I think these numbers reflect that things have pretty much stabilized. No great increases or decreases in the demand or utilization of plastic surgery. The fact that most procedures seem to be up in single digit percentage point gains reflect in my mind nothing more than statistical variation. I have a rather established practice and I appear frequently on television and despite that some months last year were slower than I would expect if things were really improving.”

Dr. Edward Jonas Domanskis of Newport Beach:

“Definitely, the surgical cosmetic procedures continue at least in my practice and Orange County, to be significantly impacted by the economy with less expendable and spendable income. I feel that this is also because consumers confidence levels are still low.”

Dr. Donald Altman of Irvine:

“Breast augmentation continues to be the most popular cosmetic surgical procedure followed by rhinoplasty. There has been a dramatic increase in breast reconstruction this past year. Patients seem to be better informed in their decisions regarding cosmetic surgery, probably reflecting their increased ability to access information online. Email and text messaging has improved my ability to communicate with patients exponentially.”

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