Fewer nips and tucks

The number of cosmetic-surgery
procedures in the US sagged for the second year in a row in 2009, according to
an annual survey released Tuesday by a plastic surgeons’ association.

There were 10 million surgical and
non-surgical procedures last year, down 2 per cent from 2008, according to a
survey of 928 board-certified physicians by the American Society for Aesthetic
Plastic Surgery, a Garden Grove, California, group of plastic surgeons specialising
in cosmetic surgery.

Driving the decline was a 17 per
cent drop in surgical procedures, to 1.5 million surgeries. “People just
couldn’t go for the big items,” said Renato Saltz, the association’s
president.

Tummy tucks, rhinosplasty and other
surgical procedures can cost thousands of dollars more than nonsurgical measures,
and they require a longer recovery.

Fear of job loss is the main reason
people are putting off their surgeries, says Phil Haeck, president-elect of the
American Society of Plastic Surgeons, a separate group that has yet to release
its annual survey.

Dr. Haeck, a plastic surgeon in
Seattle, said that marks a shift from last year when consumers cited cost as a
primary hurdle. This year, “job priority is number one, cosmetic surgery
is number two,” he said.

Breast augmentation beat out
liposuction as the most popular surgical procedure for the second year in a
row. Dr. Saltz attributes renewed popularity of breast augmentation to the 2006
Food and Drug Administration decision to lift the ban on cosmetic use of
silicone breast implants. Breast augmentations numbered 311,957 last year, down
12 per cent from 2008; liposuctions numbered 283,735, down 17 per cent.

Non-surgical procedures, such as
injections of Botox or hyaluronic acid to fill facial wrinkles, were flat,
inching up 0.6 per cent to 8.5 million.

FEATsurgerySTORY

The recession is causing people to tighten their belts than tighten their faces.
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