Summary: There’s certainly never been a time when plastic surgery has been more popular than it is today. But why is plastic surgery so popular now? What makes plastic surgery today so special, and why does it connect with so many people? There are several reasons why plastic surgery’s appeal is so strong these days—and they might not be the reasons you expect.
Why is Modern Plastic Surgery so Popular?
If you’ve been hearing more about plastic surgery these days than you used to, you aren’t alone. And that may leave you wondering: why is plastic surgery so popular now? What changed enough to make plastic surgery a front-page news kind of thing, when it used to be relegated to hushed tones and celebrity rumors?
As with many social developments, there is no one single reason why plastic surgery is so popular these days. Rather, there’s a complex web of reasons—interacting with each other—that I think accounts for the rise in how common plastic surgery is. Because we’re talking about popularity in two ways: both in terms of the number of procedures performed and in terms of dollars spent.
What are some of the factors that are contributing to this increase in the popularity of cosmetic and plastic surgery? Let’s take a look!
Procedures Have Become More Affordable
Because aesthetic plastic surgery is almost always elective, there’s long been an element of cost associated with any given procedure. How much is a breast augmentation? What’s the average cost of a nose job? These questions have a pretty potent impact on the popularity of procedures.
So as procedures become more affordable, they also become more popular. We’re used to thinking of the costs of these types of procedures as being relatively stable, but that’s not always the case. There are a few reasons why various plastic surgery procedures might suddenly become less expensive:
- Development of less invasive approaches: The less invasive a procedure is, the less it often costs. Recovery usually proceeds more quickly (meaning the patient has to take less time off of work). Additionally, the procedure can often be performed with local anesthetic instead of general anesthesia, saving costs almost immediately.
- Non surgical alternatives: Cosmetic procedures that offer a non surgical approach, such as a non surgical nose job instead of rhinoplasty or Coolsculpting instead of liposuction, tend to be significantly less expensive. At least, initially—repeated procedures can see costs begin to add up over time.New tools and greater efficiencies: Over time, surgeons are able to find efficiencies within procedures and tools to help them get results. The longer a procedure has been around, the more time surgeons have had to find ways to improve both workflows and results.
The Prevalence of Social Media
The other huge change in recent years has been the explosion of social media. It’s strange to even imagine now, but even ten years ago social media was barely a thing. It certainly didn’t have the enormous sway that it does today. Sure, ten years ago everyone knew what Facebook was, but it hadn’t been monetized the way it is now.
And social media wasn’t ubiquitous. Today, there are so many different social media channels—and they all feature photos of your face in some shape, way, or form. It’s that aspect of social media that, I think, is driving a rise in the popularity of plastic surgery.
Look, it’s not just that other people are seeing your picture so often that’s the motivating factor here. It’s that you’re seeing your picture so often. Suddenly all of those flaws and lines and wrinkles become much more prominent. The things that make you uncomfortable with your own body are that much more difficult to escape.
Plastic surgery offers patients a certain amount of control over how they look—it brings the way you look into alignment with your body image and, therefore, can improve confidence and self-esteem.
Perhaps the most fundamental reason for the surge in the popularity of plastic surgery, however, has to do with the way that modern results tend to look. It used to be that, while plastic surgery would offer a significant aesthetic improvement, the changes might be somewhat obvious.
Modern plastic surgery, however, tends to emphasize a natural looking final result. Patients want to make significant changes, yes, but they want those changes to blend in with their natural bodies. They want results that don’t look like results. There are two procedures that really illustrate the way this approach has taken hold:
- Breast Augmentation: Where once breast augmentation was described as shallow or vain, modern breast augmentation emphasizing the balance of the body. It’s more about proportion than anything else (for many patients, anyway). This means smaller implants, of course, but it also means implants that look and feel a little more natural than they used to.
- Liposuction: These days, liposuction is often referred to as “liposculpting” because it can often be used to selectively target specific areas of fat on the body. So, rather than eliminating a huge chunk of fat around the belly (for example), liposuction can “sculpt” areas of fat. The advantage of this approach is that those contoured areas of fat will look rather natural. In other words, it’ll simply look like you’ve lost a bit of weight, not like you’ve had plastic surgery performed.
Of course, just because patients want natural-looking results doesn’t necessarily mean they’re trying to hide their plastic surgery from the world. That’s because there’s been a significant decline in the stigma attached to plastic surgery in the last few years. The more popular plastic surgery becomes, the less stigma remains.
Perhaps that’s one of the greatest legacies of this boom in plastic surgery popularity. The more popular plastic surgery becomes, the freer more people will feel to pursue a cosmetic procedure as an option. Why is plastic surgery so popular? Perhaps the right question is: what are the benefits of that popularity.