Summary: Is a breast augmentation in Ridgewood, NJ more popular than rhinoplasty in Los Angeles? Broad data about what procedures are trending in the country overall can cover up more interesting tidbits about what procedures are trending locally. And that information can be important, as it can tell us what plastic surgeons should prepare for (or advertise) based on where they are in the country. We might also be able to guess a little bit at the kinds of motivations behind these procedures. Because, at the end of the day, what’s popular nationally might not be popular where you live. And that’s okay.
Plastic Surgery Where You Live
There is almost never a shortage of articles and research pointing to this or that as the most popular plastic surgery procedure in the country. Liposuction is usually the most popular, though sometimes that gives way to breast augmentation. Butt augmentation (or the Brazilian Butt Lift) is often mentioned as the procedure rising up the ranks most rapidly. However, it’s important to emphasize that simply because, for example, liposuction might be the most popular procedure nationwide that does not mean it’s the most popular in every city and every state. Indeed, every region on the United States is likely to have its own “most popular” plastic surgery procedure. And whatever that procedure might be will likely tell us something about how people use plastic surgery in that region.
Take the Northeast United States, for example. Along the northern edge of the East Coast we have states as diverse as New York and Maine—and mostly everything is covered between those two ends. According to statistics recently published by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the most popular plastic surgery procedure in the northeast is not breast augmentation or liposuction, but rather rhinoplasty. Indeed, according to the statistics, the east coast accounted for something like 63,000 nose reshaping procedures. This is a relatively high number.
Differences in Plastic Surgery Procedures
But it makes sense, if you think about it. It’s cold in the northeast, at least in winter. And when the weather is that cold, people tend to bundle up: parkas and leather coats and scarfs and big hats that cover your ears. Essentially, in the winter, the only thing that is exposed is the face, and everyone sees your face. In other words, as the most viewed piece of the body, it’s possible that the face is under the most scrutiny, the highest amount of pressure to look good. And the nose is, basically, the centerpiece of the face.
Look at it this way: when you go to a Thanksgiving dinner and your mother (or father) has selected a hideous centerpiece, it stands out—everybody notices. But when a nice centerpiece is chosen, it’s almost invisible, but somehow everything looks a little bit better. It’s basically the same thing with your nose. The human brain, after all, is very good at noticing proportions and this is doubly true in the face (we have, essentially, special facial-recognition software that makes human beings very good at distinguishing facial traits).
Rhinoplasty Balances the Face
Many patients who undergo rhinoplasty will complain that they feel their noses draw too much attention away from the rest of their face (or even their personality). Because of its location right in the center of the face, this is not terribly surprising. Indeed, a nose that is too large or an unusual shape can draw attention away from other features. And because it’s your nose, there’s little you can do to change those features. Diet and exercise are not going to change your nose. So, if your nose is constantly making first impressions for you, it’s not surprising that a large number of people would want to change that particular feature.
But that’s not the only procedure that’s popular on the east coast. Breast augmentation came in at a healthy number 2. It seems that’s another way people make a first impression. But that’s not all. A breast augmentation procedure can be about fitting into clothing better, feeling better in one’s own body, and generally increasing one’s confidence and self esteem. Indeed, breast augmentation is (contrary to popular belief) almost never about impressing men. It’s about helping women feel great in their own bodies—helping them get the bodies they’ve always wanted.
Individual Tastes in Plastic Surgery
Of course, that calls into question some of the assumptions and data from this report. Rhinoplasty, of course, appeals to both genders. While more women than men overall get plastic surgery, rhinoplasty is one of those procedures that sees a healthy number of men. This is, of course, not true with breast augmentation. Traditional breast augmentation procedures typically only apply to women. So, among women, you could easily make the argument that breast augmentation is actually the more popular procedure. This depends on the actual data (which the American Society of Plastic Surgeons generally makes available online), but for now let’s just call it my hunch.
Which is a long way of saying that sometimes the procedures we think of as king of the castle actually aren’t. All of these trends have a local component, a local story. That local story says a lot about what types of bodies people really want, and how that changes from state to state, much less nation to nation.