Botox still popular, but plastics surgeons' group cites 2% decline.

The job crisis, the housing slump, and the general decline of our economy have claimed yet another group of victims. A new report finds that the recession may be causing fewer Americans to visit their favorite plastic surgeons for the most common cosmetic surgeries. Last year, close to 10 million cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures were performed in the United States, down about 2 percent from 2008, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reports.

“Plastic surgery is feeling the effects of the recession, just like many other sectors of the marketplace,” Dr. Renato Saltz, president of the society, said in a news statement released Tuesday. “However, repeat patients and those putting off surgery are likely the reason for the small growth in non-surgical cosmetic procedures. Growth in demand will likely return as the recession eases and baby boomers’ offspring begin to explore surgical options.”

After years of steady growth, the cosmetic surgery business seems to be going through a rough patch. At a time when millions of American families face foreclosure and financial decline, plastic surgery woes hardly seem significant. But cosmetic surgery was a multi-billion dollar industry in 2009 and doctors, nurses, and anesthetists alone collected more than $12 billion dollars in fees for such procedures.

Men and women between the ages of 35 and 50 made up nearly half of the appearance-minded patients last year, racking up 4.4 million procedures. Next in line were 51- to 64-year-olds, representing just over a quarter of patients.

Breast augmentation was the most popular surgical procedure, with almost 312,000 such operations performed. Among men and women, the other top procedures were liposuction (nearly 284,000 operations); eyelid surgery (about 150,000 procedures); Abdominoplasty (close to 128,000); and face-lifts (more than 94,000).

Broken down by gender, after breast reduction, women most often opted for liposuction, eyelid surgery, Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) and breast reduction. Men, on the other hand, sought liposuction most often, then Rhinoplasty (nose surgery), eyelid surgery, male breast reduction and hair transplantation. Many people seeking a more youthful look opted for nonsurgical services. Practitioners reported more than 2,557,000 Botox and Dysport treatments and more than 1,313,000 hyaluronic acid treatments. After the injectables, laser hair removal, microdermabrasion and chemical peels were most requested by men and women. For men, laser skin resurfacing was also a top seller.

In sum, Americans paid almost $10.5 billion for cosmetic procedures; $6 billion for various surgical procedures, and $4.5 billion for nonsurgical procedures, the report said.

SOURCE: March 9, 2010, news release, The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery

– Anthony Isaac Palacios