Plastic Surgery Ads: Augmenting the Conversation

Some parts of our national physique have been growing while others have been shrinking, but the plastic surgery industry has been reaping the benefits, showing consecutive growth for each of the past 4 years. The industry in the US boasts over 15 million procedures performed in 2013. That’s a lot of nips and tucks.

As in most industries, advertising has a significant role in shaping and reshaping the conversation. Plastic surgery ads are a primary driver for the public to learn about new procedures, learn about improvements in existing procedures, and creates a desire within some of us to have these procedures done.

While we tend to think of cosmetic surgery as being driven by beauty or vanity, it should be mentioned that of the 15 million plastic surgery procedures performed in 2013, over 5 million of these procedures were reconstructive procedures including tumor removal and maxillofacial surgery. These and some other procedures in the category are health related, either preventative or curative. Of those 15 million, 6.6 million were treated with Botox, which also has some medical uses, but these medical applications may not have been the reason that nearly 7 million people sought Botox treatments.

The rest of those of those who partook in plastic surgery treatments, or those who plan to do so, aren’t seeking treatment or procedures for medical reasons. As a society, we want to look good. Advertising and marketing firms have convinced us plastic surgery procedures are safe, commonplace, and would make a great investment in our individual self-esteem.

Billboards and advertisements show us gorgeous images, offering to change our lives, and some who have had plastic surgery procedures might agree that the experience is life-changing. About 50 percent of the procedures done in 2013 were a 2nd or 3rd or 4th (you get the idea) plastic surgery procedure.

Before and after pictures stalk us everywhere, in newspapers, in magazines, and online. Some of the images don’t even bother the before, only showing us the after image of a beautiful model who may or may not have had any procedures done. This is promise of plastic surgery ads. We can all be as beautiful as we wish to be, as beautiful as we’d imagined when we were children and adolescents.

One playful business card for a plastic surgeon has the office contact information on the back of the card with a woman’s figure on the front. Two round cutouts on the card invite prospective patients to poke their fingers through, their fingers pushing against rubber inserts in the cutouts simulating breasts on the woman’s figure, of whatever size wished. Plastic surgery marketing can be fun.

Plastic surgery will have its proponents and its opponents. It will have its medical uses and there will be some who take no stance at all. However, the plastic surgery ads will still try to find our soft spot, our emotions, and our all-too-human desire to be attractive. Advertising tugging at the loose frays of our humanness works on 15 million of us each year, and the number is steadily growing.