05/15/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Cosmetic Surgery Cutbacks (for Women)

Americans are cutting back on cosmetic surgery during the recession, the NY Times reports. It's not just a money crunch, but the drop in real estate value and tightening credit, making it harder for people to finance their discretionary bodily improvements.

But a closer look at the report the Times relied on, from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, shows the pattern of cutbacks is distinctly gendered. From 2008 to 2009, cosmetic surgeries dropped 18% for women, but only 3% for men. And non-surgical cosmetic procedures (like Botox and laser skin treatment), were flat for women but increased 11% for men.

The gender difference is especially marked for the procedures men and women have in common -- like nose jobs, tummy tucks and liposuction:

Source: My chart from ASAPS report.

Overall, cosmetic surgery is still up 50% since 1997, and non-surgical procedures are up 230%. And women still account for 90% of all cosmetic procedures. Breast augmentation, the leading cosmetic surgery for women, is still up more than 200% since 1997, although it fell back 12% last year. There's still a lot of forward momentum in this industry, so I'm skeptical that the new financial landscape will result in a long-term reshaping of Americans' obsession with gendered reshaping.

Cross posted from the Family Inequality blog

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