- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cosmetic surgery’s popularity and acceptance continues to rise. The number of procedures intended to improve face or body is up by 457 percent in the last decade, according to figures released yesterday by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Almost 12 million assorted procedures were performed last year — up 8 percent since 2006. Vanity trumped concerns about the economy, perhaps: Americans also spent more than $13 billion on cosmetic improvements, which now include such categories as “vaginal rejuvenation” and male breast reduction.

The group also said women account for 91 percent of the patients.

More than 6 million women sought help with their skin — Botox injections, laser treatments, acid peels, dermabrasion, all considered “nonsurgical” by the organization.

Enlarging some areas and minimizing others were the most popular surgical options. Almost 400,000 had breast augmentations — with a nearly equal number undergoing liposuction. Eyelid surgery, tummy tucks and breast reductions were the next most popular procedures. More than 5,000 women had a “buttock augmentation” while almost 22,000 saw fit to have an “upper arm lift.” Another 4,500 opted for vaginal rejuvenation, a new category this year.

The procedure is meant to alter the shape or size of the female private parts for nonmedical reasons, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which cautioned women against the surgery last year.

Cosmetic surgery, however, is not entirely the dominion of women.

“The number of surgical and nonsurgical procedures performed on men increased 17 percent since last year,” said Dr. Foad Nahai, president of the New York-based group.

Men underwent more than a million cosmetic surgeries in 2007, with nonsurgical skin-improvement treatments accounting for about half the number. Still, almost 60,000 men had liposuction, 32,000 had their eyes done and almost the same amount had a nose job.

Perhaps men are not as concerned about the appearance of their chests these days. The popularity of male breast reduction dropped by 16 percent since 2006. About 20,000 of such surgeries were performed in 2007.

There were a few wide gender gaps, though. While more than 10,000 women got their lips augmented last year, only 72 men opted for the procedure. Some 3,800 women got a “buttock lift,” compared with 31 men nationwide. Close to 18,000 females and 513 men had a “thigh lift.”

Majorities of both sexes — 56 percent of women and 57 percent of men — approve of cosmetic surgery. More than three-quarters of both men and women would not be embarrassed if friends and family knew they had gone under the knife. Young people ages 18 to 24, the research found, are more receptive than any other age group, with 69 percent in favor of the surgery.

“It makes sense,” Dr. Nahai said. “Twenty years ago, people only thought movie stars and rich women had plastic surgery. Now people grow up knowing friends and family openly talk about procedures they have had, or the ones they plan to have in the future.”