More than 1 in 3 U.S. Adults are Considering a Nonsurgical or Surgical Cosmetic Treatment in the Next 12 Months, According to new RealSelf Aesthetics Interest Survey

Published on October 2, 2018 by
  • 4 in 5 Americans report wanting to change at least one part of their body
  • Adults under 45 are nearly twice as likely as those 45 and older to be considering a cosmetic treatment in the next 12 months
  • Interest in nonsurgical procedures outpaces surgical
  • Boosting confidence is a top motivator while work-related reasons also driving interest
  • Top concerns among those who would ever consider a cosmetic treatment are cost and fear of complications/bad results

SEATTLE, Sept. 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Providing further evidence that medical aesthetic treatments are moving into the mainstream, a new survey conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of RealSelf1 reveals more than one in three adults (37%) in the U.S. are considering at least one cosmetic treatment in the next 12 months, with significantly more considering nonsurgical procedures (34%) than surgical ones (24%). The RealSelf Aesthetics Interest Survey also revealed four in five (80%) report there is at least one part of their body they would like to change, most notably the midsection (abdomen or back) (47%) and teeth (33%); and close to a quarter (24%) report they have had at least one cosmetic treatment in the past.

realself survey
The 2018 RealSelf Aesthetics Interest Survey reveals more than one in three adults (37%) in the U.S. are considering at least one cosmetic treatment in the next 12 months.

Interest in cosmetic treatments transcends gender and age, although interest is highest among younger adults, who have yet to enter middle age. In fact, U.S. adults under 45 (49%) are nearly twice as likely as those 45 and older (28%) to be considering a surgical or nonsurgical treatment in the next 12 months. Interest in such treatments is equally distributed among women (37%) and men (38%).

“The rise of nonsurgical technologies and new treatment options have made aesthetics more accessible to a wider audience, and patients in their twenties and thirties are certainly helping fuel that trend,” said Dr. Lara Devgan, RealSelf Chief Medical Officer and board-certified plastic surgeon. “For millennials in particular, cosmetic treatments have become part of a larger self-care routine. Just as they are more aware of skin health and the importance of sunscreen, they too are open to exploring treatments that reverse signs of aging or optimize facial features.”

“In many ways, younger adults are shifting the way society views cosmetic procedures—they are more open to the idea that beauty is individualized and customizable, and that cosmetic interventions represent their personal choices about their own bodies for their own confidence,” added Dr. Devgan.

Top Treatment Considerations Improve Smile, Fight Fat
Not surprisingly, the most cited treatments under consideration in the next 12 months are designed to address the body areas Americans most frequently note they would like to change, such as the midsection and teeth. Among those considering nonsurgical treatments, cosmetic dentistry (36%) and nonsurgical fat reduction (29%) topped the list, whereas the highest interest in surgical options were reported for tummy tuck (32%) and liposuction (26%).

Top 5 Nonsurgical Treatments Being Considered in Next 12 Months by Those Considering Treatments

  1. Cosmetic dentistry (36%) (e.g., Invisalign, whitening, veneers)
  2. Nonsurgical fat reduction (29%) (e.g., CoolSculpting, SculpSure)
  3. Laser hair removal (27%)
  4. Facial skin treatments (26%) (e.g., dermaplaning, microneedling)
  5. Facial / Lip Fillers (24%)

Top 5 Surgical Treatments Being Considered in Next 12 Months by Those Considering Treatments

  1. Tummy tuck (32%)
  2. Liposuction (26%)
  3. Eyelid surgery (21%)
  4. Chin or Neck lift (20%)
  5. Breast augmentation (16%), Facelift (16%)

Confidence/Self-Esteem are Top Motivators
Among those who have had cosmetic treatments or are considering them in the next 12 months, the top motivation was/is to improve self-esteem and confidence (43%). Other motivations are to look as good as one feels (34%) and to help with weight loss or fat removal (32%).

Main Motivations for Having/Considering Cosmetic Treatments: Overall %

  • To improve my self-esteem / confidence 43%
  • To look as good as I feel 34%
  • Help with weight loss / fat removal 32%
  • To look younger 23%
  • Combat aging 20%
  • Convenience and to save time/effort 13%
  • Get my body back after having children 11%

Work-Related Appearance and Other Key Events Driving Interest
Life events may also influence the decision to pursue cosmetic work with nearly 3 in 5 (58%) of those who have had a cosmetic treatment or are considering one in the next 12 months reporting a life event influenced their decision. This is significantly greater among men (71%) than women (46%). Work-related events were cited most often, with more than one in four (26%) influenced by the desire to appear youthful at work and/or looking for or starting a new job, followed by a milestone birthday (15%), and starting dating or a new relationship (14%).

Men are twice as likely (36%) as women (18%) to cite wanting to appear youthful at work or looking for / starting a new job as influencing their decision. Men are also three times more likely than women (7%) to say entering the dating world or starting a new relationship influenced their decision.

Events That Influence the Decision to Have/Consider Cosmetic Treatments: Overall% Women% Men%

  • Wanting to appear youthful at work / looking for or starting a new job 26% 18% 36%
  • Milestone birthday (e.g., turning 40 or 50) 15% 14% 17%
  • Starting dating / a new relationship 14% 7% 22%
  • An upcoming vacation 12% 8% 17%
  • My own wedding / someone else’s wedding 9% 6% 12%
  • Getting divorced / ending a relationship 8% 3% 13%
  • Other 5% 5% 4%
  • None – no event influenced my decision 42% 54% 29%

Consideration Comes With Concerns, Most Notably Cost, Complications
Among those who would ever consider a cosmetic treatment, roughly nine in 10 (92%) admit having at least one concern related to the procedure, most notably paying for their procedure (52%) followed by fear of complications/bad results (48%).

Biggest Concerns When Considering Cosmetic Treatments: Overall% Women% Men%

  • Paying for the procedure 52% 58% 44%
  • Fear of complications / bad results 48% 54% 40%
  • Concerned about long term effects 32% 32% 32%
  • Finding the right provider 31% 33% 27%
  • Recovery / downtime 30% 30% 30%
  • Don’t want to look like I’ve had work done 25% 26% 24%
  • Confused/unsure about right treatment options 15% 14% 15%
  • Stigma associated with people who choose to have cosmetic procedures 10% 7% 14%
  • Other 1% 1% 0%
  • I don’t / wouldn’t have any concerns 8% 7% 11%

Body Areas Most Cited for Change
Four in five adults in the U.S. (80%) say there is at least one area of their body they would like to change, with changes to the midsection (47%) and teeth (33%) topping the list, followed by hair (26%), legs and thighs (25%) and skin (24%). Women (85%) are significantly more likely than men (74%) to want to change their body in some way.

Top 10 Body Areas Americans Want to Change Overall% Women% Men% Under 45 % 45+ %

  1. Midsection (abdomen or back) 47% 55% 38% 43% 51%
  2. Teeth 33% 38% 28% 35% 32%
  3. Hair 26% 27% 24% 28% 24%
  4. Legs and thighs 25% 36% 13% 29% 21%
  5. Skin (e.g., texture, tone, wrinkles) 24% 31% 15% 23% 24%
  6. Arms 20% 29% 11% 22% 19%
  7. Buttocks 20% 29% 10% 24% 16%
  8. Chest / Breasts 19% 25% 14% 23% 16%
  9. Face 15% 17% 12% 17% 12%
  10. Neck 11% 15% 6% 10% 11%

These findings support consumer interest trends observed by RealSelf, most notably the growing interest in less invasive treatments. In 2017, a record 94 million people visited RealSelf to research elective cosmetic treatments, and for the first time ever, half researched nonsurgical treatments. To view the complete report please visit www.realself.com/press.

Survey Methodology:
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of RealSelf from July 10-12, 2018among 2,052 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, among whom 862 have had cosmetic treatments or are considering them in the next 12 months. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact RealSelf.