It’s well known that gym membership signups spike on January 1. But there are other ways to kick off the new year with a new look. Cosmetic procedures soar at this time of year, and the “gifting” of plastic surgery is reportedly a rising holiday season trend.
Leading into the holiday season, it looked like plastic surgery was shaping up as a hot gift item. According to plastic surgeons cited in an ABC News report, the gifting of cosmetic surgery is up 20% to 35%, depending on the procedure and practice. Likewise, an Elle.com post called on plastic surgeons reporting that sales of gift cards—often for $150 to $200, which cover low-cost procedures like medical-grade peels—have undergone a “dramatic increase.”
There’s a rise in pricier gift surgeries as well, with family and friends paying for the nose jobs, breast augmentation, or Botox treatments of loved ones. “I’ve really seen it all with holiday gifting. I’ve seen mothers get daughters laser hair removal,” Dr. Elizabeth Hale, a Manhattan-based dermatologist told Elle. “I’ve seen sisters give sisters treatments, usually an injectable.”
In the Las Vegas area, quick plastic surgery procedures spike before Christmas arrives. Treatments and surgeries are often up 20% to 30% in December, typically with patients who want to look their best for holiday parties and/or the start of the new year. Per the According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
“People find themselves with a little more time off for recovery from surgical procedures,” said Dr. Terry Higgins, a partner in Anson and Higgins. “It’s also party season, when everyone’s out and about and being seen more than normal. Or people may be seeing relatives they haven’t seen for a while. They want to look their best, so they get noninvasive quick fixes that can help them look good rapidly.”
The plastic-surgery-around-the-holidays trend has been noted in the past. A year ago, the South Florida SunSentinel reported on the rise of stockings stuffed with cosmetic surgery gift cards. One woman, who happens to be a psychotherapist in Fort Lauderdale, gave her husband “a wrapped box under their tree with a $500 gift certificate for botox injections and laser hair removal.”
“It’s a nice gift, one piece of paper, one little bow, one little box, and that’s it, you’re done, and the person is very happy,” she said. “And there’s a benefit — you don’t have to look at their wrinkled, shriveled face.”
The reasons that the holiday period is peak season for plastic surgery are fairly obvious, according to a 2011 Wall Street Journal story:
After many cosmetic procedures patients want to go underground during the days-long recovery period, which might involve swelling, bruising and oozing. The holiday season makes it easier to avoid interacting with others at work or in school car pools.
For the skeptics out there, what’s interesting about all of these trend pieces is that the data typically originates with plastic surgeons (who obviously have self-interest in promoting cosmetic surgery and holiday surgery gifting as trends), and that most of the surgeons and patients cited are located in big cities like New York and Chicago (so, presumably, the idea quite as hot in small-town America).
In any event, there are still some limits to what’s considered acceptable. Among the non-Botoxed who can still manage to make facial expressions, few raise their eyebrows in shock when word spreads about reality TV stars buying each other boob jobs for Christmas. But reports of an increase in plastic surgery among young people (under 20) in Germany caused one local politician to voice the concerns shared by many. “I think it is completely unacceptable to give a 15-year-old a breast enlargement as a Christmas present,” he said.