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Study reveals who is really considering plastic surgery


Hint: It’s not who you think!

In the first-ever research of its kind, a study conducted by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) details the people considering plastic surgery and their motivations, debunking many stereotypes. The study, published in the September issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the ASPS, found potential patients came from all economic levels and age ranges. Their motivations were personal but not vanity oriented, the study also found.

"Finally we have a study that reveals the truth about real people considering plastic surgery," said Walter Erhardt, MD, chair of the ASPS Public Education Committee. "It’s not just women over 50 with high incomes who are seriously considering procedures. It’s the young mom next door, the waiter who served you coffee this morning, even your coworker."

The study, which polled 644 people considering plastic surgery within the next two years, found almost 30 percent, or 191 participants, reported average household incomes of less than $30,000. Forty-one percent had annual incomes of $31,000 to $60,000, and 16 percent had annual incomes of $61,000 to $90,000. Only 13 percent reported average household incomes of more than $90,000 per year.

Also, the participants’ age ranges varied; 26 percent were 18 to 29 years old, 38 percent were 30 to 49 years old and 36 percent were 50 years or older. Eighty-one percent of respondents had not undergone plastic surgery while 19 percent had already had at least one cosmetic procedure. The people polled came from all regions of the United States. More than 85 percent were Caucasian and 85 percent were women, according to the study.

In addition to the general poll, 60 in-depth interviews were conducted with people actively considering plastic surgery. These people had sought information from the ASPS Physician Referral Service in the past 18 months. More than 40 percent of these potential patients had been considering plastic surgery for quite some time, often more than a year.

Most of those interviewed felt they could achieve emotional, psychological and social improvements by having plastic surgery. Although most participants were interested in having plastic surgery to improve their appearance, many emphasized they were not motivated by vanity. Instead, they associated plastic surgery with improving a bothersome physical feature to overcome dissatisfaction and unhappiness with that feature.

When asked why they wanted to have plastic surgery, 75 percent of those interviewed said to gain physical benefits such as improved appearance, becoming more active and being healthier. Approximately 70 percent reported emotional and psychological benefits such as increased happiness, self-esteem and self-confidence. In addition, 45 percent -- more notably men than women -- expected social benefits from plastic surgery, including being more accepted and more attractive to others.

More than 85 percent of those interviewed stated the benefits of plastic surgery far outweighed the risks. They believed the risks would be minimal if they did their homework by researching the procedure and locating a qualified plastic surgeon. Also, membership in the ASPS was an important factor when looking for a plastic surgeon, demonstrating the surgeon was a skilled professional with proper accreditation.

"ASPS is dedicated to educating potential plastic surgery patients by offering quality information and referrals to experienced, certified plastic surgeons," said Dr. Erhardt. "We were thrilled to learn many patients are actively seeking information before having any cosmetic procedure, helping ensure a safe and successful outcome."

LaSandra Cooper | EurekAlert!
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