You are not alone. According to a 2006 survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, nearly 20 percent of the American population aspires to undergo cosmetic surgery in their lifetime.
“We all look good for our age, except for our necks,” writes Nora Ephron in her book I Feel Bad About My Neck. Is it any wonder Ephron’s book went straight to the best-seller list upon its release? Couldn’t most every one of us say, “We look good, except for (fill in the blank)”?
While the nervous Nellies among us (like me) would rather learn to live with our sagging jowls than risk going under the knife, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that such conservatism is fast losing ground. Thanks partly to the aging of the baby boomers and thanks partly to the Dr. 90210s of the world, the popularity of cosmetic surgery may soon outpace that of the potato chip—and that’s saying a lot. In 2016, more than 2 million Americans elected to undergo cosmetic surgery, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, representing a whopping 119 percent increase since 1997.
It also is becoming more mainstream.
“It isn’t just the rich and famous [who are getting cosmetic surgery]—it’s everyone,” notes Thomas Whetzel, M.D., a plastic surgeon and professor of surgery at UC Davis Medical Center. Whetzel believes the demand for cosmetic surgery will continue to grow because today’s consumers are less willing to accept what is. “If they have a little extra skin from childbirth that’s hanging from their abdomen, they’ll say, ‘Oh, I need to have that cut off,’” he says. “The previous generation probably wouldn’t have even thought about it.”
For those who are thinking about it, here’s a look at some of the hottest topics—from procedures to sociological trends—straight from the lips of local plastic surgeons.
- Lipo is still No. 1. Liposuction, the most popular cosmetic surgery in the United States for 10 years running. Whether performed alone or in conjunction with other procedures, the goal of liposuction is plain and simple: to get rid of unwanted fat. (No wonder it appeals to so many.)
- Brow lifts are getting better. A brow lift used to mean getting slit from ear to ear across the top of your head, but not anymore. The endoscopic brow lift—which requires a few small incisions and enjoys a shorter recovery time—is fast becoming the technique of choice.
- Fill ’er up with fat. When 57-year-old Ginger Maxwell (not her real name) had a face lift 13 months ago, she also wanted to do something to plump up her upper lip. “I had thin lips to begin with,” she says. “But as I got older, my upper lip began to disappear.” Instead of using collagen or another injectable filler, Maxwell’s surgeon extracted a tiny amount of fat from his patient’s abdomen—just one example of the microfat grafting technique that is being used in a growing number of cosmetic-surgery scenarios.
- It’s not in the closet anymore. Candor is common among today’s cosmetic surgery patients with many patients sharing with their friends and family their procedures. Today’s patient is much more open about and proud of having ‘work’ done.
- The demographics are shifting. Although women are still winning the cosmetic surgery sweepstakes by a landslide, accounting for some 84 percent of those who underwent cosmetic procedures (surgical and nonsurgical) in 2016, a growing number of men are slowly trickling into the race.