In 2016, we have countless tools at our fingertips to fake our way to a flawless appearance. There are Instagram filters, Snapchat smoothers and touchscreen applications designed to virtually nip and tuck wherever and however desired. Then, of course, there's the real deal—plastic surgery.
The concept of permanently altering one's physical features is by no means foreign. It is a practice that has been traced back to recordings on ancient Egyptian papyrus. However, six years into the new decade, plastic surgery and its non-invasive additions are more commonplace than ever before.
Surgeries once deemed too costly, time-consuming or dangerous have been—thanks to the marvels of modern medicine—improved to deliver timely physical results with far less of the fear that once plagued earlier versions of current procedures.
Whether the client is a woman who has faced a double mastectomy as a result of a life-saving breast cancer treatment, a man who is suffering from excess skin at the hands of a 250 pound weight loss or a celebrity looking for that camera-ready lift, there are more cosmetic options than ever before to meet the diverse needs of an ever-growing consumer base.
The amount of men and women participating in cosmetic surgery is increasing so rapidly, the statistics almost seem like typos. In data reported by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, breast augmentations, a method that has been around since the 1960s, increased by 30 percent from 2000 to 2015. Tummy tucks are up by a staggering 104 percent. Even something as simple as unwanted hair has been removed via laser 1.1 million times.
However, those stats sound like children's play in comparison to the introduction of Botulinum Toxin Type A, known by its nickname Botox. In 2015 alone, the procedure was performed 6.7 million times, a 759 percent increase from nearly two decades ago.
Why? For one, injectables and fillers are as non-invasive as plastic surgery comes these days. "They'll just come in on their lunch," said Dr. John M. Taylor, director and owner of the Allure Plastic Surgery Center. "The injectables are getting better and better and we can do a lot more nonsurgically to rejuvenate the face now than we used to."
As a newer alternative to the veteran face lift—which is down by 6 percent since 2000—botox is injected to calm muscles causing wrinkles in the face and fillers can plump the skin to restore what is lost as a result of aging. "I always thought the surgical results of face lifts were kind of unnatural looking," Taylor explained. "We are getting more natural results now."
However, such relaxed results come at a hefty price. A typical botox treatment can cost $600 to $700 on average and lasts approximately four months before it's time to book another appointment.
Still, it sounds like a small price to pay in comparison to one of the most expensive procedures presently on the market—sex reassignment surgery. If insurance companies are not cooperating, Taylor said the surgery can run upwards of $30,000. More commonly, butt augmentations, which were projected by the ASPS to have occurred as frequently as every half hour in 2015, typically come with a $4,000 price tag.
While some procedures are as noncommittal as ever, for others, time is also of the essence. Certain breast reconstruction microsurgeries, typically used for women who have had their natural breasts removed, can last for 10 hours in the operating room.
Extensive weight loss surgeries involving body and thigh lifts can involve months of recovery and several stages of surgeries, Taylor added. Conversely, torn earlobes—often the result of consistently wearing heavy earrings or gauges—can be repaired within an hour and require just two months of post-op cleaning and care.
While plastic surgery is still dominated by female patients, men are increasingly taking advantage. Though men aren't nearly as committed to the injectable trend, Taylor says he does have male patients who request Botox. Still, the most requested surgical procedure for men in the last 15 years has been gynecomastia, also known as a male breast reduction. The procedure was performed 27,456 times in 2015 alone. Why the uptick? According to Taylor, men are no longer embarrassed to request it, especially if it means feeling more confident about their bodies afterward.
As the data concedes, with 15.9 million overall procedures performed last year, the industry is steadily increasing with little sign of losing steam. If you're contemplating dipping your toes into the plastic surgery pool, heed the following advice from a surgeon with over 20 years of experience.
"The most important thing is not to shop for price," Taylor advised, adding that a surgeon with a conservative approach is typically best. "These procedures can be dangerous in the wrong hands."