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Each year the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) eagerly awaits the annual statistics from its member surveys.
It's kind of like Christmas in February. We have an idea of what's coming, but until we open it we really don't know what we have.
It's also a good way to take the pulse of our profession. And I am happy to say that things look good in the world of plastic surgery.
Cosmetic operations are on the rise as demonstrated by the stats.
Our number one cosmetic procedure was breast augmentation, followed by rhinoplasty (nose reshaping), eyelid surgery, liposuction and facelifts.
Not only is breast augmentation in the top spot, but the numbers are up over last year. While the data does not say exactly why this is, some advances in technology may have an impact here.
The first advance is the FDA approval of shaped, or form stable, silicone breast implants. These new implants mimic the natural 'teardrop' shape of the breast. All three implant manufacturers are producing them and they are available to women as another option.
Breast enlargement through fat grafting is also on the increase. While this many never surpass breast implants, it does give some women another choice.
While liposuction is still a top operation, the numbers are slightly below last year's. Patients looking for fat reduction may be turning to non-invasive methods such as cryolypolysis or fat reduction through cooling (a.k.a. CoolSculpting®).
Speaking of fat grafting, there has been a surge in the area of buttock augmentation. This has seen a significant percentage increase over the previous year and was almost unheard of ten years ago in mainstream plastic surgery.
Fat grafting was the most used option for buttock enhancement followed by buttock lifting and buttock implants.
Facial rejuvenation numbers are on the rise across the board.
ASPS members performed more facelifts, forehead lifts, neck lifts and eyelid surgeries than the previous year. Many feel that is an area of plastic surgery most affected by the overall economic recovery- which makes sense since overall facial rejuvenation numbers have been on the rise for the past two years.
Needles are leading the way, as one of the biggest increases again this year is the rise in minimally invasive cosmetic procedures.
Injections of Botulinum Toxin Type A for wrinkle reduction is by far the most popular injection therapy. The number of procedures was up again last year and there has been a 700% increase since the year 2000. (Too bad we can't say the same for the stock market!)
The next most popular injection therapy is fillers which are used to smooth lines, and improve the contours of the face. Hyaluronic acid, or HA, fillers are by far the most popular, and have risen 18% in the last year. This is driven by the fact that HA is a naturally occurring substance in the body, and newer, longer-lasting formulations are coming into use -- another effect of advancing technology.
ASPS has worked hard in the last two years on the Breast Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) Day campaign, educating women about their breast reconstruction options following breast cancer surgery.
Annual BRA Day has been an extremely successful international movement. Whether or not there is a cause and effect relationship, breast reconstruction after breast cancer surgery is increasing.
Further, the trend towards having breast reconstruction at the same time as the breast cancer surgery, immediate reconstruction, saw a large increase - up 33% from the previous years. The use of microsurgery for breast reconstruction (DIEP flaps), and fat grafting as an adjunct to breast reconstruction also increased.
The 2013 statistics show a healthy increase in most areas of our specialty. I would predict that surgical procedures will see steady growth in the years ahead, but the non-invasive body contouring technologies will see greater increases. Perhaps that's just something on my Christmas wish list, but this time next year we will know for sure.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.