Summary: When it comes to cosmetic procedures, there’s no denying their underlying appeal. So it shouldn’t be surprising that researchers have unveiled a steady growth over the past twelve years—cosmetic surgery has doubled in popularity. There are many reasons for this, not least of which because surgeons have recognized that pain and recovery tend to keep patients away. So, noninvasive procedures have become commonplace. And with them, so has instant gratification—which seems to be the trend of the future.

Elastic Terms

The distinction between plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery has always been a little nebulous. Some practitioners prefer the moniker of “cosmetic surgeon” and some see it as a less qualified title. But when it comes to how we designate procedures, there appears to be more agreement. A plastic surgery procedure is an all-encompassing term—anything that involves plastic surgery, whether its reconstructive or elective falls under this term.

But cosmetic surgery is usually undertaken because it involves a cause that is not necessarily medically necessary in nature. Cosmetic surgery is undertaken because of, well, cosmetic considerations. And that’s why it’s worth noting that, according to a recent presentation at Plastic Surgery the Meeting, cosmetic surgery procedures have doubled in the last twelve years or so.

Steady Growth

This means that the popularity of cosmetic surgery persisted even through the economic recession that started in 2008 (and that many of us are still trying to find our way back from). A large portion of this increase is due to the rise of non-invasive (or less invasive) procedures that still yield great results. For example, in Michigan Coolsculpting is a big hit, possibly because of the shorter summers—so immediate and painless results are always a little extra incentive for the near instant gratification of that procedure.

Changing Variables

As the researchers revealed more of their findings, it became clear that different types of procedures were affected by different variables locally. Bigger procedures—your breast augmentations and tummy tucks and liposuctions—were impacted by financial and legal variables: how easy is it to get financing? Are the procedures covered under your medical insurance? How much is the tax rate going to tack on?

But that was a bit different when it came to the less invasive procedures. Things like local media coverage has a huge impact—so, too, does the local real estate market. All of the results were covered at the Plastic Surgery The Meeting, held by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons annually to discuss new research.

Less Invasion

It shouldn’t be surprising that cosmetic surgery is gaining popularity. It’s not just the nonsurgical procedures that have become less invasive, it’s a dedication to accomplishing every procedure using the least invasive means possible. Breast augmentation still requires surgery, of course, but plastic surgeons have gone a long way towards making it less invasive than it used to be—which means quicker recovery and fewer scars.

Eyelid surgery is another good example of this. Where the traditional procedure involves a scalpel and—as with any time you’ve got a scalpel—bleeding and possible scarring, a novel approach using lasers means a cleaner finish, with far less bleeding and no scarring. Laser eyelid surgery is a great example of this cutting edge cosmetic surgery that is by design less invasive.

The Way of the Future

As cosmetic surgery continues to grow in popularity, there’s no doubt that the results of those procedures will continue to improve. It’s a way of acknowledging that patients who want cosmetic procedures are often scared away by the prospect of pain, surgery, or recovery. Cosmetic surgeons know, then, that the more painless they can make their procedures, the more patients they’ll have.

And that will keep cosmetic surgery growing long into the future.

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