Demographic Changes Among Plastic Surgery Patients

Since plastic surgery is an elective procedure it is widely assumed that most, if not all, patients are from the same high-income bracket with similar demographic traits. However, the most recent research performed by The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) demonstrates that ethnic background, economics and age do not necessarily play a significant role in plastic surgery.

Ethnic Numbers

In 2004, of the 9.2 million cosmetic medical procedures performed, Hispanics accounted for 553,000 procedures, the most common being nose reshaping, breast augmentation and liposuction. In that same year, 461,000 African Americans had plastic surgery, frequently requesting nose reshaping, breast reduction and liposuction. Asians, accounting for 276,000 procedures in 2004, commonly sought nose reshaping, eyelid surgery and breast augmentation. In all ethnic groups, wrinkle treatments, chemical peels and microdermabrasion were popular non-invasive procedures.

With the advent of patient financing and reasonable costs for today's procedures, people of many income brackets can afford cosmetic surgery. In 2005, ASPS conducted another study that demonstrates that cosmetic surgery is no longer only for the affluent. The poll interviewed 644 people and found that household incomes of these patients were not remarkable:

  • 30% with an income level of $30,000 or less
  • 41% at $31,000 to $60,000
  • 16% at $61,000 to $90,000
  • 13% at $90,000 or more

Plastic surgery today is also not just for the young. Of the participants in the 2005 ASPS study, 26 percent were 18 to 29 years of age, 38 percent were 30 to 49 years old, and 36 percent were 50 years or older.

Life-Changing Decision

While years ago plastic surgery would not have been considered to improve quality of life, that is not the case today.

Seventy-five percent of the respondents in the 2005 ASPS study indicated that they chose plastic surgery to gain an improved appearance and a more active lifestyle. Likewise, 70 percent cited emotional and psychological rewards, with notable happiness and renewed self-esteem and confidence, while 45 percent said they enjoyed the daily benefit of being more attractive.

Lastly, deciding to have plastic surgery was a decision not taken lightly by study respondents. Approximately 40 percent had a procedure performed after considering the decision for more than one year. Eighty-five percent of the participants indicated that the benefits outweighed the risks by becoming better educated about the procedure they were interested in, and by using the ASPS to help locate a qualified doctor.