The Changing Face of Plastic Surgery

Cosmetic surgery may be changing the faces of Americans now more than ever, but the faces that are being changed are markedly different than the stereotypical affluent, Caucasian female that are more commonly thought of as driving the plastic surgery industry. Strax Rejuvenation, a Florida based elective surgery practice, concurs, citing an exponential ten-year increase in male patients, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT ), and minority patients.

This drastic shift in patients comes after nearly two decades of equally groundbreaking social and economic change. Growing acceptance of gay and lesbians in all aspects of American life from the armed forces to media representation, and growing financial prosperity for minorities coupled with pushes for affordable and accessible healthcare have all contributed to explosive demand for procedures.

“More and more people of non-white heritage, African American, Hispanic, even Asian American, are looking for these procedures and services,” a representative from Strax Rejuvenation says.

Even since the new century, changes in demographics were seen in the field. There was a 243 percent increase in plastic surgery for Black, Asian and Hispanic American patients between 2000 and 2010.

“In years past, your typical plastic surgery patient was an upper-middle class, Caucasian woman, somewhere between 35 and 55. That was the main demographic of people looking for this service as far back as the 70s or 80s. Now, however, more than ever before, we’re seeing that client profile change,” Strax Rejuvenation comments.

But what exactly is contributing to increased demand among minority patients? A recent New York Magazine piece asserts that it’s greater “purchasing power.” Between 2005 and 2013, procedures among Asian Americans increased 125%, Hispanics by 85%, and African Americans by 56%.

“There are more minority surgeons, too. The entire industry is shifting from a traditionally white-washed view into a more diverse crowd of doctors and clients,” Strax Rejuvenation says.

As with the increase among people of color seeking cosmetic surgery in the United States, LGBT patients are going under the knife in droves. Increased media visibility, hate-crime legislation, the advancement of LGBT civil liberties through the dissolution of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and other legislative victories in the name of equality have all reduced the stigma gays and lesbians have carried in recent decades.

With this social advancement, The “pink dollar,” i.e. the gay community’s economic prowess has also been on a steady increase since the 1990’s.

LGBT Americans reportedly travel more, earn more, and participate in modern consumerism more than their heterosexual counterparts because of higher proportions of disposable income. Among LGBT consumers, like minority groups that came before with their own civil rights movements, brand loyalty is a strong deciding factor mainly because of a service or business’ acceptance and willingness to serve that niche group.

“We have a large number of gay and transgender patients who fly from all over the country because they feel comfortable and accepted at our facility, the most popular of which is male patients seeking to have female breast augmentations. Because we are so accepting to diversity and welcome people of all social statuses, we tend to elicit a great number of referrals just by word of mouth from our existing patient base,” Strax Rejuvenation says.

Seemingly men, gay or straight, are increasingly open about cosmetic surgery. With male patients accounting for more than 1 million procedures in 2013, that’s a 273% increase since 1997.

The rise of the “metrosexual” during the mid-2000’s, coupled with the worst economic slump in the nation’s history since the Great Depression may have enlightened a generation of American men that simply possessing the y-chromosome may not be enough to get what one desires in life.

A physician interviewed in a recent Business Insider article posits that the two biggest motivators for men seeking cosmetic surgery are to “look good and stay competitive in the job market.” Among these aesthetic power-seekers are male executives seeking the so-called “Forbes Facelift,” consisting of a necklift, eyelift, jawline restructuring, and possibly liposuction.

If recent trends play out the way practices such as Strax Rejuvenation foresee, plastic surgery will be a much more open topic of conversation, similar to that of Brazil and South Korea, countries where elective cosmetic surgery is sought after by all reaches of society.