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The economy is hurting our looks too

March 17, 2009 | 12:06 pm

Botox2The demand for cosmetic surgery fell 12% last year in the United States, according to statistics published this week by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Nearly every procedure declined in popularity, typically by 10% to 20%. Drops were noted in all groups and genders, but the decline in procedures among men was especially stark.

"Demand for these procedures is still strong and it's still up significantly from 10 years ago," says Dr. Sanjay Grover, a Newport Beach plastic surgeon and past president of the Orange County Society of Plastic Surgeons. "But I think people are being more careful about what they're spending money on."

Locally, Grover says, plastic surgeons are reporting dips in business from 20% to 40% in the first few months of 2009.

Nationwide, even might Botox fell by 8.4% among women in 2008, the ASAPS reported, although surgical procedures declined more than nonsurgical procedures, such as injectables and Botox. That doesn't mean there wasn't a whole lot of fixing going on, however. Overall, 10,258,557 surgical and nonsurgical cosmetic procedures were reported in 2008. And, for the first time, breast augmentation was the most popular surgical procedure, outpacing liposuction for the first time. The increase in breast augmentation is likely due to the return of silicon implants to the market, Grover says. Requests for laser skin resurfacing also soared last year, reflecting the use of fractional lasers that cause patients less recovery time compared with the resurfacing lasers used in the past.

As demand wanes, prices for some procedures are dropping, Grover says. But consumers should still shop cautiously.

"Even though the economy is tougher for everybody, patients still shouldn't let price be the driving factor," he says. "It's important for patients to select a board-certified plastic surgeon who has a particular interest in aesthetic plastic surgery."

The ASAPS consists of plastic surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. The statistics can be accessed on the group's website.

— Shari Roan

Photo credit: Kirk McCoy / Los Angeles Times


Chart: American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery