Dr. Hugh Hetherington: Plastic Surgery Out-Prioritizes Bills, Even In This Economy

USA Today recently reported that the rates of cosmetic surgeries have undergone no decrease, despite the drawbacks of today’s economy. While that’s good news for Dr. Hugh Hetherington’s business, the plastic surgeon is still quite surprised that this is a nationwide phenomenon.

Not only do fewer Americans seem to frown on cosmetic plastic surgery nowadays, but many more relish its availability. Despite nationwide poverty levels, struggles with gas prices and health care costs, cosmetic plastic surgery procedures actually rose from 2011 to 2012 by five percent. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) frequently reports studies on the field and industry at large.

Apparently, last year alone, 14.6 million procedures were performed in America. That figure includes more minimally invasive methods, not just surgical practices. Nevertheless, 2012 marked the third consecutive year in which overall growth in cosmetic surgery has continued to drive upward. More specifically, however, the less invasive procedures are the ones rising. Conversely, the rates and amounts of surgical procedures have remained quite stagnant in comparison.

To clarify, minimally invasive procedures entail a variety of treatments like Botox, laser hair removal and chemical peels. The more detailed statistics illuminate information on cost and spending of these sorts of minimally invasive procedures, as well. The costs are generally lower because these techniques target those with less discretionary income to use for surgical procedures. Cosmetic surgery is not customarily covered by health insurance policies.

Minimally invasive procedures increased by 6%, surpassing 13 million in 2012 alone. At the top of the list was botulinum toxin type “A,” injective treatments like Botox and Dysport. Cosmetic surgical procedures actually decreased by 2%, still almost reaching 1.6 million last year. Breast augmentation has remained at the top of that list of surgical procedure for some time.

The more surprising statistic the ASPS found was that male breast reduction rose by 5%. The number may seem dismal, but a total 21,000 procedures were performed. By a similar token, the higher number seems to reflect increased national levels of obesity in conjunction with greater social acceptance of plastic surgery. The field of reconstructive plastic surgery underwent a more minor trend, increasing by 1%, which still constitutes about 5.6 million performed procedures. Many health insurance policies do encompass reconstructive surgeries, but the levels show significant discrepancies.


Dr. Hugh Hetherington is a reputable physician and surgeon with several decades of experience and specialized training. He focuses on medical and cosmetic procedures of the head and neck. He is originally from Montana, and practices otolaryngology and cosmetic surgery there to