"Despite the global economic downturn, more and more Australians, men and women, young and old, are electing to have cosmetic surgery."

Australians Outspend US on Cosmetic Procedures

For thousands of Australians, the concept of ageing gracefully is a thing of the past, and with a price tag placed on beauty, the L’Oreal slogan because you’re worth it has never been so apt.

Posted: 16 February 12

Despite the global economic downturn, more and more Australians, men and women, young and old, are electing to have eyelid surgery, nose surgery, breast augmentation, breast lifts and liposuction. In 2010 Australia spent in excess of $1bn on looking good. Supply is also keeping up with demand – according to Dr. Russell Knudsen, President of the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery (ACCS), College member practices increased in 2010 from 10% to 20% .

Although the USA, with a much larger population spent around $10.1bn on surgical and non-surgical procedures. For a fair comparison, this number needs to take into account the population differences between the two countries. If we look at dollars spent per 10,000 people we find Australians are spending almost 40% more per capita than their northern hemisphere counterparts at $454,500 per ten thousand people, compared to $328,000 per ten thousand for the USA. At the time of writing the two currencies were roughly at parity.

Australia lags behind other countries in gathering data on plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. At this time, in fact, national statistics for the industry are only collected sporadically and not broken down as finely as the US data. However, this increase in Australian spending in this industry indicate the importance of youthfulness, or at least the semblance of it, especially to a vital clientele of the cosmetic industry who want to “look as young as they feel”—people over the age of 65.

Procedures most in demand from 2009 on, regardless of age or sex, were eyelid surgery, nose surgery, breast augmentation, breast lifts and liposuction. These account for about 67% of Australia’s total cosmetic surgical procedures. The president of the ACCS, Dr. Russell Knudsen, also estimated that around 16,000 breast augmentations and 15,000 liposuction procedures were performed in Australia in 2010.

Not surprisingly, women account for the majority of these procedures, specifically 92% of all surgeries performed. The top procedures for women were breast augmentation, breast reduction, liposuction, tummy tucks, and eyelid surgery. For men, the most popular cosmetic surgeries were reduction of enlarged breasts, liposuction, rhinoplasty, eyelid surgery, and cosmetic ear surgery.

Other procedures popular with Australians have been anti-wrinkle injections, fillers for lines and wrinkles and laser treatments such as photo-rejuvenation. According to the ACCS, Australians spend around $300 million a year on anti-wrinkle injections.

Reactions to the sums Australians spend vary widely. The Cosmetic Physicians Society of Australasia (CPSA) states that 2011 has been a good year for business. On the other hand, Professor Bob Montgomery of the Australian Psychological Society (APS) suggests that these figures point to serious underlying psychological issues, asserting, perhaps, that instead of shrinking wrinkles, Australians should be seeing shrinks!

The future of Australia’s cosmetic industry remains bright, with the demand for cosmetic procedures limited only by financial capacity. The fact is that men and women are better able to afford, and have more freedom to opt for cosmetic procedures than ever before. And with population trends showing that in the coming 40 years, seniors, who are beginning to fervently embrace cosmetic surgery, will comprise about 20% of the Australian population, the demand for cosmetic surgery is likely to soar to incredible new heights.

Join the Conversation