Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, spending on non-surgical, dubbed “minimally invasive procedures,” and surgical cosmetic procedures in 2020 declined from their 2019 peak of $24 billion to $20 billion. Still, spending in 2020 was 21% higher than the $16.5 billion spent in 2018, according to American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). As the breast enhancement chart below shows, the 2007-9 recession also noticeably impacted spending on cosmetic procedures.
Our Fountain of Youth reporting divides cosmetic procedures into two sub-categories. Cosmetic treatments involving the face, head, and neck constitute facial rejuvenation. The remainder of the body belongs to “body aesthetics” — the subject of this section. The top five cosmetic body procedures requiring surgery are, in order of popularity:
- Breast enhancement – Breast augmentation (193,073) and breast lift (87,051) totaled 280,124 procedures, up slightly from the 265,336 performed in 2000. In comparison, 451,700 patients enhanced their breasts in 2007, the last year before the Great Recession permanently impacted all aesthetic procedures:
- Liposuction – Although it works anywhere, liposuction typically means tumescent lipoplasty or tummy lipo. In 2020, this procedure was performed 211,067 times, down from 354,015 during the dotcom boom go-go year of 2000.
- Tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) – The stomach area is enemy no. 1, persuading 97,988 to have their tummy tucked in 2020.
- Breast reduction – When you combine both female (33,574) and male breast reductions, called gynecomastia (18,575), you end up with 52,149 procedures, the fourth most popular body aesthetics procedure in the U.S.
- Breast implant removal – Breast implants can sometimes have undesirable side effects, leading to their removal in 36,367 instances in 2020.
Non-surgical cosmetic body treatments are popular because they require almost no or little downtime. The top five body aesthetics procedures in order of popularity are:
- Laser hair removal – Our aesthetic standards continue to evolve with most women and an increasing number of men choosing to remove body hair. In 2000, an astronomical boom year by any stretch of the imagination, 735,996 hair removal treatments were performed. By 2019, it was over a million (1,055,456). The pandemic bust of 2020 resulted in a down year of 827,409 procedures. But that figure far underestimates the real market of daily shaving and home hair removal devices. Yes, people do remove facial and neck hairs using laser devices, so this statistic is imperfect, but one can assume that more than 90% of procedures involve body hair.
- Varicose and spider vein removal – Unattractive veins can be taken care of in two ways. Sclerotherapy typically involves injecting a salt solution into a vein, which irritates blood vessel linings, causing them to collapse and stick together, and blood to clot. Over time, the vessel turns into scar tissue and fades away. An alternative therapy uses a laser to shrink blood vessels and cause scar tissue. A combined total of 464,013 sclerotherapy (295,331) and leg vein laser treatments (168,682) were performed in 2020, a significant decline from the 1.1 million in 2000. One can only guess that jeans hide a lot of veins.
- Non-invasive fat reduction (CoolSculpting, Emsculpt, Liposonix, Vanquish, Zerona, etc.) – Minimally invasive fat reduction therapies are the fastest-growing body aesthetic category, with 357,938 procedures performed in the U.S. in 2020. This category did not exist in 2000, so no comparable data is available. Popularly known as “body contouring,” non-invasive fat reduction is unquestionably the most exciting body aesthetics treatment, and includes fat freezing (cryolipolysis), like CoolSculpting; muscle contractors, like Emsculpt; low-level laser therapy (LLLT), like Zerona; suction massage (cupping); radio-frequency energy (radiofrequency lipolysis), like Vanquish; or high-frequency focused ultrasound, like LipoSonix.
- Cellulite reduction (BodyFX, Cellfina, Cellulaze, Endermology, Pellevé, and Velosmooth) – Cellulite is a common affliction that gives female legs a dimpled, uneven appearance. The newest devices use a laser or other energy source to induce fat cells under the skin to release some of their contents, leading to a smoother surface appearance. A total of 86,350 procedures took place in the U.S. in 2020.
- Laser tattoo removal – The widespread popularity of tattoos has led to a booming laser tattoo removal business, with 199,945 procedures performed in 2020. No one did laser tattoo removal in 2000, so we predict this market will double by 2040 once tattooed individuals realize how unsightly these symbols of revolt have become with age.
Interest in aesthetic rejuvenation is accelerating, driven by 70-million-plus aging baby boomers. As a result, according to Research and Markets, the market for body contouring devices is expected to reach $8.4 billion by 2027. See you after lunch. 😍