Generation X Leads Boomers in Cosmetic Surgery Procedures


A sluggish economy hasn’t phased the anti-aging industry. Last year, Americans spent $10.1 billion on cosmetic procedures and the age group leading the trend was not the 78-million-strong Baby Boomer generation, but Generation X.

According to a study by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), adults between the ages of 31 and 45 accounted for 43% of all cosmetic procedures in 2010, while baby boomers (ages of 51 and 64), made up just 28%.

Dr. Leo McCafferty, president elect of the ASAPS, says the trend can be attributed to more readily available information about products and cosmetic surgery. Television commercials, magazine ads, and literature in dermatologists’ offices and spas frequently feature information about new, less-invasive cosmetic procedures. And, as technology improves, so does the emphasis on patient safety.

“We have more of these types of procedures available today than we did 10 years ago,” he says. “Non-invasive methods such as Botox and Juvéderm have no downtime. When it comes to surgery and other facial rejuvenation procedures, technology now allows us to make smaller incisions. It’s also more of a lifestyle decision these days, beyond exercise and nutrition.”

Industry statistics show that of the 13.1 million procedures performed last year, 11.6 million of them were non-surgical. Dr. Jeffrey Kenkel, director of the Clinical Center for Cosmetic Laser Treatment in Dallas, says despite the increase in treatments, cost is still a factor.

“Many of my patients consider these procedures as part of their budget, for personal ‘maintenance,’” he says. “While the cumulative cost may be greater than surgical procedures, people decide either they don’t need it or decide more subtle changes are a better fit for their lifestyle.”

In addition to “personal maintenance,” experts say there are professional reasons for an increase in use of anti-aging remedies. And, Kenkel says, each age group’s level of participation in the workforce plays a role in the amount of procedures per age group.

“I think the desire to look better for both personal and professional reasons is more prominent for Generation X. “But I do see baby boomers who had to go look for jobs and wanted to do something they thought would help make them more competitive in the workplace.”

Each age group also does their own kind of research before visiting a cosmetic surgeon. McCafferty says boomers tend to do more research than Generation X.

“I think Generation X could be a bit more thorough as they do research. Not everyone is a good candidate for these kinds of procedures, non-invasive or otherwise.”

Those seeking either invasive or non-invasive procedures should consult their local county medical society, or an organization like the ASAPS to check a doctor’s credentials beforehand.

McCafferty suggests checking to see if the doctor has sufficient credentials to do procedures in a hospital.

“This doesn’t mean you have to go to a hospital to have this done,” he says. “It means they’re qualified to do so through a thorough peer review as well as a board review. Non-hospital procedures, however, should be completed in a facility that has been thoroughly vetted.”