2015: A Year of Firsts and a Hint of Things to Come

plastic surgery, statistics, 2015, trends

Forget the magazine covers and morning news shows. If you want proof of cosmetic surgery’s popularity and growing acceptance, consider the just-released annual statistics from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). In 2015, for the first time ever, Americans spent more than $13.5 billion on aesthetic procedures in a single calendar year, a new record and a 12% increase over the year before.

And that wasn’t the only first:

  • Surgical procedures, which accounted for 58% of total expenditures, surpassed the $8-billion mark for the first time
  • Nonsurgical procedures, which accounted for 42% of total expenditures, surpassed the $5-billion mark for the first time
  • For the first time, procedures involving neurotoxins (Botox, Dysport, Xeomin) surpassed the 4-million mark
  • For the first time, procedures involving hyaluronic acid (Juvederm Ultra, Ultra Plus, Voluma, Perlane, Restylane) surpassed the 2-million mark
  • For the first time, breast lifts are among the top five procedures for women, bumping nose jobs to No. 6

Such numbers are impressive but not surprising, says ASAPS President James C. Grotting, MD:

It reflects a healthy and robust economy wherein many people can afford to, and want to invest in themselves. As editor Joel Stein aptly pointed out last year in TIME Magazine’s article, Nip. Tuck. Or Else., more people now perceive aesthetic enhancements and procedures as essential. I personally believe the motivating factors for that are varied, but remaining competitive in the workforce is certainly a common factor. Youth is a commodity, and people are investing in themselves to maintain a younger, healthier appearance.

Impressive firsts aside, the data also provide a glimpse into what procedures are garnering the most attention from aesthetic consumers. While longstanding favorites, such as lipo, breast augs and tummy tucks, continue to dominate surgical procedures, other procedures are clearly generating a lot of interest. Among those showing an increase between 2014 and 2015:

  • Butt lifts: up 32%
  • Male breast reduction: up 26%
  • Breast and butt augmentation: both up 21%

A similar scenario plays out on the non-surgical/minimally invasive front. No procedure is likely to knock Botox off its popularity perch but other treatments showed impressive growth between 2014 and 2015. Among the fastest-growing:

  • Non-surgical skin tightening (e.g., Ulthera, Thermage, Pelleve): up 58%
  • Tattoo removal: up 39%
  • Hair removal (laser or pulsed light): up 37%
  • Microdermabrasion: up 34%
  • IPL: up 30%

Doctor Takeaway

Today’s trends point the way to future opportunities

It’s hardly surprising that the most popular aesthetic procedures remain more or less the same over time. But the large upticks in everything from butt lifts and male breast reductions to skin tightening and tattoo removal point to changing tastes and evolving ideas about body image. Keeping up with the trends can inform decisions about what devices to purchase, what procedures to promote and what type of content will appeal to potential patients in 2016 and beyond.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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