Younger generations are more in-tuned with fitness, healthy diets, and self-care, which includes fixing up those wrinkles over the eyebrows. As a result, multiple studies have found demand for cosmetic surgery and injectables among younger generations is growing.
Earlier this year, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons revealed that 30% of plastic surgeons have experienced double the business compared to pre-pandemic levels. A large majority of these are millennials.
Cosmetic and plastic surgeries are also becoming popular for the even younger generation known as Generation Z, which is an age range that falls between 11 years old and 26 years old. The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery found that three-quarters of facial plastic surgeons cited increases in those under 30 years old requesting cosmetic surgery or injectables.
Ashley Amalfi, M.D., is a plastic surgeon at the Quatela Center for Plastic Surgery in New York and one of those plastic surgeons witnessing a spike in younger groups seeking treatments. She tells Healthnews that the majority of those patients under 30 years old at her practice are seeking early preventative botox.
"I see a lot of women before they get married wanting to look as good as they can before that big day, so that is a pretty common time to start thinking about those things," Amalfi says. "The nice thing is they are not hooked on it, whereas if they stop doing it at that age, they don't have to come back. We see a lot of people who are doing things to look their best around a special occasion, and that is pretty common for that age demographic."
Amalfi performs injectables, however, her main focus is body and breast procedures. On the surgical side of things, Amalfi notes business is more or less the same as usual.
"We have always seen some patients who go through puberty and are interested in cosmetic surgery. A lot of times at that age, it is to correct something that didn’t exactly form well. For instance, they have significant asymmetry of their breasts where one breast doesn’t form or is small, or one is droopy compared to the other. Those sorts of things that are outside what is ‘normal’ at that age are things that have always bothered that population," explains Amalfi.
In 2016, a survey from the Pew Research Center evaluated American public opinion on plastic surgery. A majority of respondents (61%) found people were too quick to obtain cosmetic procedures. Fifty-four percent felt cosmetic surgery had as many pros as it did cons for society. With increases in procedures for those in younger generations along with additional groups, Amalfi believes the negative stigma or "taboo" energy surrounding cosmetic surgery is beginning to dwindle.
"We are more understanding of that as a culture, and due to that, I believe people are more likely to share. What we used to see about plastic surgery was the horror stories in the tabloids of people with terrible breast augmentations and face lifts. Now, you are seeing patients document their entire journey for others to see, and they see it is not scary, doesn't have to look fake and weird, and can be beautiful and natural looking with a type of result nobody would notice and a pretty easy recovery," says Amalfi.
Does social media influence cosmetic surgery?
"If you look at the research, social media has a large impact on the rise of procedures," says Talia Wiesel, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology and board-certified psychologist to Healthnews.
In a 2021 survey conducted by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, almost half of the patients said social media played a role in their choice to opt for surgery.
Frequent social media use contributes to unrealistic body images, worsened body image, concern with appearance, and self judgement.
The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery says the phrase "Snapchat Dysmorphia," where Gen Z app users obtain treatments for facial tweaks to mimic filters, is more of a myth than reality. The world’s largest association of facial plastic surgeons says that few Gen Z clients participate in facial plastic surgeries such as face lifts, neck lifts, lip lifts, and eye lift surgery. However, as they age, these numbers may increase more than ever before.
While "Snapchat Dysmorphia" may be labeled as a "myth," the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery did find that 79% of plastic surgeons believe the trend to look better in selfies is rising. "65% of selfies posted on social media are filtered, says Wiesel.
Although social media makes cosmetic surgery journeys more accessible, Amalfi believes it is not encouraging bad habits. Millennial and Gen-Z populations are often associated with higher rates of fitness, healthier eating, and other self-care aspects.
"I just think that is the way this generation is going, they are taking interest in themselves from head to toe," Amalfi says. "I think that plastic surgery has been a national progression of that. If they are taking care of themselves and taking care of their skin, of course, they want to take care of wrinkles and keep their body looking as young and fit as possible as they age."
Amalfi says cosmetic surgery is just another way for these populations to practice health and wellness.
Wiesel, however, is concerned over the rising rates of plastic surgery in Gen Z and younger generations. "Bodies and faces are still developing," she says. "Some procedures are permanent, and this is a young age to be making major life choices which they may regret later."
Are you ready to get plastic surgery?
In order to ensure that you're mentally, emotionally, and physically prepared to undergo plastic surgery, consider a few points before booking your appointment.
According to Wiesel, make sure you're in the right headspace for plastic surgery by following these points of thought:
- You don't have any problems with body image like an eating disorder or body dysmorphic disorder.
- You are not struggling with a mental health condition.
- Your sense of self-worth goes beyond your looks.
- You've done your research and have realistic expectations about what you'll look like.
- Understand that this surgery or procedure won't fix your entire life problems.
- This isn't a spur-of-the-moment decision and it's something you've thought long and hard about.
- The reason isn't because of social media or influencers.
- Ask yourself, "Why now?"