Over 24% of Americans Want at Least One Form of Invasive Cosmetic Surgery

BY Rachel Cagle
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Providing further evidence that medical aesthetic treatments are moving into the mainstream, a new survey conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of RealSelf reveals more than one in three adults (37%) in the U.S. are considering at least one cosmetic treatment in the next 12 months, including surgical ones (24%). The RealSelf Aesthetics Interest Survey also revealed four in five (80%) report there is at least one part of their body they would like to change, most notably the midsection (abdomen or back) (47%) and teeth (33%); and close to a quarter (24%) report they have had at least one cosmetic treatment in the past.

Interest in cosmetic treatments transcends gender and age, although interest is highest among younger adults, who have yet to enter middle age. In fact, U.S. adults under 45 (49%) are nearly twice as likely as those 45 and older (28%) to be considering a surgical or nonsurgical treatment in the next 12 months. Interest in such treatments is equally distributed among women (37%) and men (38%).

"For millennials in particular, cosmetic treatments have become part of a larger self-​care routine. Just as they are more aware of skin health and the importance of sunscreen, they too are open to exploring treatments that reverse signs of aging or optimize facial features," said Dr. Lara Devgan, RealSelf Chief Medical Officer and board-​certified plastic surgeon.

Not surprisingly, the most cited treatments under consideration in the next 12 months are designed to address the body areas Americans most frequently note they would like to change, such as the midsection. The highest interest in surgical options were reported for tummy tuck (32%) and liposuction (26%), followed by eyelid surgery (21%), chin or neck lifts (20%) and breast augmentation (16%) and facelifts (16%).

Among those who have had cosmetic treatments or are considering them in the next 12 months, the top motivation was/​is to improve self-​esteem and confidence (43%). Other motivations are to look as good as one feels (34%) and to help with weight loss or fat removal (32%).

Life events may also influence the decision to pursue cosmetic work with nearly 3 in 5 (58%) of those who have had a cosmetic treatment or are considering one in the next 12 months reporting a life event influenced their decision. This is significantly greater among men (71%) than women (46%). Work-​related events were cited most often, with more than one in four (26%) influenced by the desire to appear youthful at work and/​or looking for or starting a new job, followed by a milestone birthday (15%), and starting dating or a new relationship (14%).

During these big life events, Invasive Cosmetic Surgery Patients may be comparing themselves to others their age or in similar circumstances on social media. According to AudienceSCAN research,  this audience is active on Facebook (81.4%), Instagram (64.8%), YouTube (63.1%) and Twitter (53.8%) and is 58% more likely than other adults to take a selfie and post it to social media. About 18% also find advertising on social networks useful to them and 31% have taken action after seeing posts that weren't even ads on social networks.

Men are twice as likely (36%) as women (18%) to cite wanting to appear youthful at work or looking for/​starting a new job as influencing their decision. Men are also three times more likely than women (7%)  to say entering the dating world or starting a new relationship influenced their decision.

Among those who would ever consider a cosmetic treatment, roughly nine in 10 (92%) admit having at least one concern related to the procedure, most notably paying for their procedure (52%) followed by fear of complications/​bad results (48%).

These fears will lead to research. According to AudienceSCAN, 36.1% of Invasive Cosmetic Surgery Patients have used a search engine to research services they considered for purchase within the last six months. This likely occurred on Google, the favored search engine of 92% of this audience. SEO is critical for cosmetic surgery advertisers because only 26.8% of these potential patients go past the first page of results.

Four in five adults in the U.S. (80%) say there is at least one area of their body they would like to change, with changes to the midsection (47%) and teeth (33%) topping the list, followed by hair (26%), legs and thighs (25%) and skin (24%). Women (85%) are significantly more likely than men (74%) to want to change their body in some way.

Invasive Cosmetic Surgery Patients can be reached through multiple forms of digital advertising. According to AudienceSCAN, 74.7% took action after seeing an ad on a mobile app or after receiving a text advertisement last year. Also within the last year, 73.3% clicked on text link ads on websites and 71.1% took action after receiving an email ad. TV commercials and direct mail ads/​coupons are also effective advertising methods since 79.7% took action after seeing an ad on TV and 75.9% reacted to direct mail ads last year.

AudienceSCAN data is available for your applications and dashboards through the SalesFuel API. Media companies and agencies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.