Every year the American Society of Plastic Surgery releases its highly-anticipated statistics on the number of surgeries performed the previous year. For many years I was Chairman of the Public Education Committee and one of my jobs was to review the stats with the ASPS staff to find something newsworthy enough to release to the media.
Some years it’s obvious–a dramatic increase or decrease, like the increase in the numbers of non-invasive procedures (Botox and fillers) which really took off a few years ago. In other years, it takes some creativity to find something noteworthy in the numbers. In these years, although interesting, the headline may not truly reflect what’s happening in our practices day in and day out.
2015 Plastic Surgery Statistics Just Released
For the 2015 statistics release, the story is “All About That Bass” to quote Meghan Trainor. There was a 28 % increase in buttock lifts, and a 33 % increase in fat injections to the buttocks. When you look at the percentage increases, it’s easy to get the impression that just about everyone is adding to their, ah, assets. But, the percentage increase is not the whole story.
Let’s look at buttock lifts. In 2015, 4767 buttock lifts were performed, as opposed to 3505 in 2014. This represents an increase of 1262 operations. So, the number increase is not really earth shaking. To put the buttock numbers in their proper place, this operation represents less than 0.3% of the 1,706,106 operations reported. When you look at it this way, there doesn’t appear to be a lot behind these numbers. In fact, the rise in buttock procedures may not be all it’s cracked up to be. (OK, my wife double dog dared me to write that. So I had no choice.) Questions about these operations prompted me to write my most shared blog last year Think Timeless, Not Trendy, When Considering Plastic Surgery.
So where is the real story? Let’s start with the top procedures.
The Top Plastic Surgery Procedures Remain The Same
There are a couple of things here although they are not terrible sexy (but then, good news rarely is). The top procedures remain consistent: breast augmentation, liposuction, rhinoplasty, eyelid surgery, and tummy tucks. Each year there can be a few more or less of these, but they always remain the top operations. The reason for this is simple: they deliver the results people want. This is good news for both plastic surgeons and patients alike, but this ain’t exactly headline news.
Body Contouring Procedures Are Doing the Heavy Lifting
Both tummy tucks (up over 10,000 operations or 8%) and breast lifts without implants (up about 7,000 operations or 7%) saw real increases over 2014. This reflects what I see in my practice with high demand for both the “mommy makeover” and operations for both sexes who have had significant weight loss. In my practice I continue to see a dramatic increase in patients wanting to combine their tummy tucks with excision of the hip rolls, a procedure we fondly call the “muffinator”. Lower body lifts have seen an increase over last year and almost all of these patients have had significant weight loss. It is likely that these types of operations will continue to increase on a yearly basis as we become more effective at weight loss.
More and More Men Are Turning to Plastic Surgery
Year after year we see a moderate increase in the number of men undergoing surgery for gynecomastia or male chest reduction. Now men have 21.4% of all chest/breast reduction procedures. I certainly have seen this in my practice; it is also the subject of my recent blog Gynecomastia: No Laughing Matter. Gynecomastia is a very troubling condition for men, and we have some really effective treatment options. I am glad that this is so because successful treatment of gynecomastia has led to some of my happiest patients.
Injectable Procedures Continue to Move The Needle
In the non-surgical arena, the steady increase in fillers and Botox continues. Botox, the most popular treatment, did not see as much of a percentage increase as fillers did. That’s not too surprising because the number of Botox procedures is so high and there have been ongoing developments in fillers such as the introduction of Juvederm Voluma for volume enhancement of the cheeks. Further developments in the technology of fillers are likely to continue increases in their application and use.
All in all 2015 was a good year for plastic surgery. Increases in buttock volume procedures may be interesting, but I don’t really think it is the point. For me the real story is that people are finding it increasingly acceptable to undergo elective plastic surgery to solve a problem for both men and women.
All the best,
David B. Reath, MD
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