Summary: Tastes in plastic surgery procedures are always changing. Sometimes liposuction is in, sometimes it’s all about the tummy tuck. Every year, we learn more about what patients are looking for, what they’re amped about, what they want. This year, according to new data released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, with members from Seattle, WA to Clear Lake TX, tummy tuck took a back seat to a couple of new procedures: labiaplasty and butt augmentation (using silicone implants). On the opposite end, a normally quite popular procedure took a bit of a dip.

Butt Augmentation Popularity Rise

We always talk about how plastic surgery is a field that is known for both innovation and marketing. To be fair, we spend much more time discussing innovation because, frankly, I think it’s more important and more relevant. Sometimes that innovation can take off in some pretty wild directions (using Botox to treat depression is one—not because there’s anything necessarily wrong with it, but only because it’s not a direction you’d be expecting). And there are, perhaps, some avenues of innovation that are not necessarily healthy in the long run—some that might be unfortunately damaging. More often, this innovation is eventually simply forgotten about in favor of some other hot, new procedure.

However, every once in a while, a particular innovative procedure happens to catch on at just the right time—either servicing or creating a social demand that had, up until then, been dormant. Sometimes, this is by design, sometimes it’s pure serendipity. That’s certainly the case with two new procedures, according to new data put out by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The year 2014 may be remembered as the year of the butt augmentation and vaginal cosmetic surgery. The data put out by the ASPS suggests that 2014 saw these two procedures—butt augmentation using silicone implants and labiaplasty—surged in popularity last year.

A Changing Social Landscape

And that’s not surprising, especially when it comes to butt augmentation. To a certain degree, butt augmentation popularity has always been there. But with popular culture forces such as Kim Kardashian and Beyonce sporting ample behinds, emphasizing this particular anatomical feature is more acceptable—well, more desired—than ever before. For women with a natural round rump, this sea change in social attitudes has been quite welcome. And the same is true for women with a flatter behind—though this area can be particularly difficult to target via diet or exercise. Perhaps that’s one of the contributing factors when it comes to the popularity of this procedure, after all.

When it comes to butt augmentation, silicone implants are not the only option. Indeed, many patients opt for a fat graft procedure (in which some fat is taken from a donor area and, after purification, applied to the buttocks). But fat grafts have a couple of drawbacks. First, if you have little fat on your body, it can make it difficult to find a suitable donor site. Second, fat grafts can be somewhat unpredictable. With every fat transfer procedure, there is a certain amount of fat that won’t survive the process. Usually, this is only a small percentage of the harvested fat—but it can vary with each patient. Of course, plastic surgeons are always looking for improved techniques to make fat grafts more reliable (and to be sure, it’s not as if the results vary wildly… it’s just that sometimes, the results can deflate slightly, and that can disappoint some patients.

Silicone implants provide a very natural look and feel, and the fact the resulting size is incredibly predictable appeals to patients. In fact, these implants appeal to patients so much that almost 2000 procedures were performed between 2013 and 2014 (according to the ASPS).

Labiaplasty is Also on the Rise

Labiaplasty is, obviously, a much more sensitive procedure, and it’s far more difficult to ascribe its popularity to trends in popular culture such as movies, television or movies. And there are two ways to look at the rise of labiaplasty. The first is as an indication of increased pressure on women to achieve attractiveness in all parts of their bodies, even their genitals. The second way to look at is as evidence of women’s growing agency in terms of exercising control over their own bodies—even in areas that are typically taboo. There’s still debate over which of these viewpoints labiaplasty represents—and the truth is that it’s probably a bit of both. There are all kinds of pressures and incentives that lead people to pursue plastic surgery generally—including labiaplasty.

Plastic Surgeons Innovating to Meet Changing Demand

The last interesting thing that this data, release by the ASPS, indicates is that breast augmentation surgeries seem to be taking a bit of a dip. Only time will tell whether this is momentary dip or a long term trend, but breast augmentation has long been an icon of plastic surgery procedures. It’s unlikely that it will be going anywhere in the long term—but it’s an interesting piece of information, nonetheless.

Plastic surgery, as with many things in life, is constantly changing. The rising popularity of these procedures is certainly evidence of that. But it’s also evidence that plastic surgeons are constantly innovating and constantly looking for ways to meet the demands of patients. Society changes—what’s considered attractive changes. And plastic surgery changes as well. What matters are the results and how great you feel about yourself.

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