For men and women both, the focus is on breasts according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, which released its 2012 statistical report today.
In 2012, plastic surgeons across the country performed 286,000 breast augmentations, making it the most often performed cosmetic surgery for the year, a position it has held since 2006. Silicone implants were used in 62%, and saline implants in 38% and although the total number may be high, it represents a decline of 7% over 2011.
This is not the whole story, though; listed among the procedures that made notable gains in the past year is male breast reduction (gynecomastia), which rose in popularity during 2012 by 5% over 2011.
"I think we are always affected by the people that we see consistently, either on the big screen or on TV," said American Society of Plastic Surgeons Public Education Committee Chair David Reath, MD. "We see them and think, 'yeah, I'd like to look like that'."
An astounding total of $11 billion was spent (up 5.5% over 2011) on 14.6 million cosmetic procedures in the US last year, boosting the economy in this sphere. With this 5% increase in procedures over the past year, women represented 91% of surgeries and 40-54 year olds made up the majority or 48% of the total.
The cosmetic action also shifted away from surgical procedures (1.6 million) to minimally-invasive procedures (13 million), which rose 6% over 2011.
Another surprise? Although Caucasians overwhelmingly account for the majority of procedures (10.2 million, 7% more than in 2011), it is Asian Americans who represent the fastest growing advocates of plastic surgery. They accounted for 980,000 procedures, which is an escalation of 21% over last year. African Americans also increased their use of plastic surgery; they accounted for 1.2 million procedures in 2012, which is 6% more than in 2011. The only demographic to lose steam in 2012 were Hispanics, whose numbers (1.6 million) represent a drop of 1% from the previous year.
Finally, the Society grants "notable gain" status to hair transplantation procedures (up 4% over 2011) and upper arm lifts (up 3% over 2011 and an overall increase of 4,473% since 2000).
The latter procedure, known as brachioplasty, requires an incision from the elbow to the armpit, generally on the back of the arm, leaving a visible and permanent scar.