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When Times Get Tough, the Tough Get Plastic Surgery
by: Dr. Bunkis
Is an ugly economy to blame for being vain?
Is an ugly economy to blame for being vain?

Q: My question does not pertain to any one particular procedure. But am I just more aware of plastic surgery because I am getting a little older or is it becoming more prevalent in our society? How has the recent recession affected which plastic surgical procedures were being performed?

-Janice S., Coto de Caza, CA

A: Interest in and acceptance of aesthetic surgery has continued to rise in popularity in the United States during the past few decades. There was a 228% increase in the number of cosmetic surgical procedures performed in the United States between 1997 and 2002. This upward trend has flattened the last two years during our recession but patients are again coming it and requesting facial rejuvenation.

Economic indicators show that the recovery has started, and with this recovery, potential patients are booking more surgical procedures. Interestingly, during this latest economic slowdown, patients continued coming in for less invasive and less costly procedures to improve their appearance temporarily until the economy improved—procedures such as Botox to remove frown lines between the brows or crow’s feet instead of getting a more permanent correction with a brow lift or an eye lid procedure; filler injections to plump lips instead of more permanent improvements with a surgical micro-fat grafting; minor peels or light treatments to get a temporary improvement of skin texture instead of a permanent correction with a deeper laser treatment or peel; Lipodissolve® injections to lessen fatty deposits instead of a surgical liposuction or tummy tuck to permanently remove skin or fatty excess; and a variety of peels or mid-face injections with substances like Sculptra® to improve the face temporarily until one could afford a full facelift.

The desire to look better was not diminished by the recession. In fact, this desire was a motivating factor for many to seek facial improvement so they could look younger and compete more effectively in the work place. Men and women from all walks of life now seek to improve their appearance in a variety of ways: exercise, diet, clothing, cosmetics, jewelry, and surgery.

So why this sudden surge of interest? First of all, surgical procedures themselves have become safer, more effective, and more affordable for the average person in recent years. Second, society’s values with regard to appearance have changed. When I was a young plastic surgeon in the late 1970’s, it was not unusual for a patient to come in using a maiden name or, if they were considering or had surgery, never to discuss it with anyone, not even a dear friend. Today having had plastic surgery is almost the equivalent of a status symbol and patients do not shy away from discussing their desires or their procedures with friends and family alike.

Seventy-six million baby boomers are enjoying middle age but not necessarily the changes they see in the mirror every day! Constituting roughly one-third of our population, this large and influential group places a high value on the quality of life and rejects the notion that looking old is inevitable.

These values have affected all Americans. People no longer feel they have to put up with wrinkles, sagging skin, baggy eyelids, excess rolls of fat, stretch marks, weak chins, large noses or breasts that are too large or too small, protruding ears, or any other part of the body that is out of proportion to the rest. The plethora of stories in the written press and numerous popular TV shows such as Nip and Tuck and Extreme Makeover are both the result of this increased popularity in plastic surgery and further serve to increase interest in the subject. If you have any concerns about your appearance, your best bet would be to seek a consultation with a Board certified plastic surgeon to review your many options. If you would like to see copies of disks featuring Dr. Bunkis in such shows as NBC’s The Other Half, the Learning Channel, or numerous TV interviews, please feel free to contact our office at 949-888-9700.

949.888.970 | 30212 Tomas Ste. 275, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688 |

As Medical Director of Orange County Plastic Surgery, Juris Bunkis, M.D., F. A.C.S. brings 30 years of surgical expertise to our communities. Dr. Bunkis is a Harvard trained, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon and Member of numerous prestigious organizations including the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the California Society of Plastic Surgeons. Dr. Bunkis, a former faculty member at the University of California, San Francisco, has published more than 40 scientific publications, abstracts and book reviews, and 17 book chapters in plastic surgery text books. For questions or advice, please contact Dr. Bunkis directly at

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