More than 1.6 million Americans went under the knife for beauty in 2010, receiving breast implants, liposuction or facelifts, sending the rate of cosmetic surgeries up almost 9 percent from the prior year, according to a report released Monday.
Plastic surgeons say the increase generally tracks a reviving economy: A 2009 Cleveland Clinic study found a direct correlation between plastic surgery procedures and trends in the S&P 500, Dow Jones and Nasdaq indexing.
"We've joked for years that we could create an economic indicator about how we're booked," said Felmont Eaves, president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
Americans spent $6.6 billion on cosmetic surgery in 2010, according to a survey of 938 plastic surgeons by the ASAPS, a Garden Grove, Calif., group of plastic surgeons specializing in cosmetic surgery.
The five most popular surgical procedures in 2010 were breast augmentation, liposuction, eyelid surgery, tummy tuck and breast reduction. All were up compared with 2009. Breast augmentation, the most popular cosmetic surgery procedure since 2008, has held fairly consistent during the recession, with the number of surgeries increasing 2 percent in 2010. Americans spent nearly $1.2 billion on breast augmentation in 2010, more than any other procedure.
This is in contrast to the number of liposuction surgeries, which has fallen 37 percent since 2007. While the survey doesn't explain why, Dr. Eaves said he's seen a similar decrease in liposuction in his practice and a slight increase in procedures such as thigh lifts and arm lifts that might produce a similar result.
Facelifts rebounded in 2010, increasing 35 percent from 2009. Facelift procedures decreased in 2008 and fell sharply in 2009. But in 2010, Americans spent $845 million on facelifts.
Facelifts are the second most expensive cosmetic procedure at $6,600 on average. (The most expensive procedure is a "lower body lift" at $7,904.)
Overall, there were 1.6 million elective plastic surgical procedures in 2010, down from the 2005 peak of more than 2.1 million, representing a modest recovery.
Women accounted for 91 percent of cosmetic surgeries in 2010 and make up the entirety of the 67 percent increase in surgical cosmetic procedures seen since 1997. In fact, slightly fewer men had surgical procedures in 2010 than in 1997.