We live in a country where many are preoccupied with their appearance. The beauty business is a billion dollar enterprise reflecting that preoccupation. Especially in California, our culture is “obsessed” with looking young and energetic. Surprisingly, though, the U.S. does not even make the top five nations when it comes to the percentage of the population having cosmetic surgery. There are other surprises noted in a survey done by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons and summarized in an excellent article by Mikaela Conley on abcnews.go.com from April 25, 2012. The authors of the survey caution, however, that their data came from responses to questionnaires sent to 20,000 plastic surgeons throughout the world, of which only 698 or 3.5% responded. Bottom line: Take these results with a large grain of salt!

• The first surprise is the answer to the question, “Where do they do the most plastic surgery as a percentage of the population?” No, it’s not Brazil – it’s South Korea!! In fact, 1 in every 5 South Korean women has had plastic surgery with the most common procedures being liposuction, nasal surgery, and double eyelid surgery to change Asian appearing eyes into Western-looking ones.

• The #2 spot on the list is held by Greece! The country whose economy is floundering to the degree that it’s pulling down the rest of us!! Apparently the Greek economy still has the wherewithal to support many breast augmentations, the most commonly performed procedure in Greece.

• #3 is Italy, and still no Brazil! Botox is the most popular procedure, with liposuction for treatment of “pasta overdose” coming in 2nd place. ☺

• #4 – Finally Brazil makes it! It’s surprising that Brazil ranks so low given the widespread acceptance of plastic surgery amongst Brazilians. There is also a tax-deduction system in place to support elective plastic surgery. This year the government made monies spent on cosmetic surgeries tax-deductible and even extended these deductions back to 2004. The rationale is that the additional monies spent on plastic surgery will generate income amongst the plastic surgery community that will find its way back to the government as income tax. Now why don’t I live in Brazil?? ☺

• The #5 position is occupied by Colombia where liposuction was the most popular procedure in 2010. Many of these surgeries were performed on foreigners who traveled to Colombia for plastic surgery. Just a word of caution about this “cosmetic tourism”: It may be cheaper than plastic surgery in the U.S., but if a complication occurs, you may find yourself in a difficult situation far away from home!

• Finally – the U.S. makes it at #6! Although cosmetic surgeries have been increasing in number at a slow rate due to our poor economy, non-invasive procedures such as injectables (Botox and Juvederm) are on the rise. Liposuction and breast augmentation continue to be the big surgical winners.

Again, take these results with a grain of salt. Should you have any questions, please contact my office.

George Sanders, M.D.