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Summary: The popularity of plastic surgery has never been in doubt and continues to grow. But what many people don’t necessarily realize is that this popularity is not confined only to the United States. Nor is it confined to South America, where Brazil and Argentina have well-earned reputations as plastic surgery power-houses. In fact, when you look at the number of procedures performed per capita—that is, in proportion to the population—the popularity of plastic surgery worldwide takes some turns and leads to some interesting nations that don’t necessarily have a worldwide reputation for plastic surgery popularity.

Plastic Surgery World Popularity

Plastic surgery is remarkably popular in the United States. People love Botox and they love breast augmentation and, as always, the love liposuction. This love affair with plastic surgery is well known in American circles and plastic surgery patients in the United States receive among the best and safest plastic and cosmetic surgery procedures in the world. But that safety and those results don’t come cheap. Plastic surgery in America is quite expensive, owing the extensive training received by surgeons, the high-end products (such as the incredibly safe silicone breast implants that are widely used) and strict safety regulations.

But American isn’t the only place where plastic surgery is popular. Indeed, according to run on Insider Monkey, an online magazine that specializes in analyzing markets for investment purposes, plastic surgery is finding an ever-growing audience abroad. In fact, we’ve written several times about how, especially in the South American nations of Brazil and Argentina, plastic surgery is ubiquitous. In fact, when you look at the per capita investment in plastic surgery (that is, what percentage of the population has plastic surgery), America is only ranked fourth in the world. But it’s not outranked by Brazil or Argentina.

World Rankings for Plastic Surgery

In fact, the United States is outranked, per capita, by three somewhat surprising nations. In third place is Italy, where Botox seems to be king of the hill. According to the numbers presented in the article, Italians had roughly 69,000 procedures performed in 2010. That may not sound like much, compared to we Americans, but remember that Italy has a significantly smaller population than the United States (and a significantly weaker economy). And yet, cosmetic procedures such as Botox remain quite popular. To be sure, we can’t draw any sweeping conclusions about Italian life from just these numbers—but they are certainly interesting.

Coming in second is another country with economic woes: Greece. To be honest, I was somewhat shocked when I saw this country on the list, for specifically the economic reason. Maybe it’s unfair to Greece that the first thing I think of in association with that nation is economic turmoil (speaking of modern Greece of course—ancient Greece comes with a different set of associations). But maybe Greece’s second place finish is a little more understandable when we take into account some historical context. After all, ancient Greece is the birthplace of western aesthetics—our ideas about balance and attractiveness and so on have roots here.

And then there’s the number one country. It’s a surprising country if you haven’t been paying attention to the field of plastic surgery, less surprising if you’ve been Googling “plastic surgery.” That number one nation is actually South Korea. According to the article, one out of every five people may have gone under the knife in South Korea. A fifth of the population. That’s a crazy-high number of people, but apparently South Korea has incredibly high standards when it comes to beauty. Unfortunately, the greater the pressure, the more common plastic surgery becomes.

Quantity Does Not Equal Quality

Now, just because people are getting plastic surgery in these countries doesn’t mean you should do any of that plastic surgery tourism nonsense. Indeed, almost all plastic surgeons universally discourage any type of plastic surgery tourism. Yes, your procedure may be less expensive in, for example, Greece, where currency and economic woes give added value to the dollar. But patient safety inevitably suffers when costs are cut. Just look at Argentina, where surgeons had to turn to less expensive breast implants and ended up seeing a spike in ruptures and complications. In other words, whatever the cost savings, they just aren’t worth the complications that come with them.

So the solution is to stay close to home. Find a highly qualified, board certified plastic surgeon. If you’re looking for breast augmentation in Milwaukee, you can find your surgeon there—you don’t need to fly to Greece. However, the one thing we can take away from all this data is that plastic surgery is continuing to gain in popularity. Whether you live in Wisconsin, California, or South Korea, chances are there are plastic surgery options near where you live. And this proximity isn’t anything to shake a fist at. Your support group—your local support group, I should say—is quite important when you’re recovery from any type of surgery, plastic surgery included.

So if you’re looking for a transformation, it’s okay to stay close to home. Your results will be worth it. And you’ll be joining many people who have also had plastic surgery performed all over the world.

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