Buh-bye botox

Will the financially pinched have to give up their nip 'n' tucks?

Published December 19, 2008 12:20AM (EST)

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Will the current economic crisis cause women to refrain from paying to have their breasts augmented, the fat sucked out of their thighs and needles plunged into their lips, foreheads and crow's feet? Will it revolutionize our beauty standards and renew our appreciation for wrinkles, natural breasts and eyebrows that have actual freedom of movement? Those are the questions asked by a New York Times Style piece about how these dark financial times have plastic surgery hopefuls feeling the pinch in their pocketbooks (instead of newly augmented body parts).

There's already some slight evidence of a downturn in business. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons found that 62 percent of plastic surgeons "had performed fewer procedures in the first half of this year compared with the same period last year," the Times reports. Doctors in Orange County, Calif., arguably the capital of plastic, have reported a 30 to 40 percent decline in business. And breast implant manufacturer Mentor Corp.'s sales have "decreased 5 percent during the three months ending Sept. 26 over the same period last year."

As we previously learned from the Times, the rich are already being forced to give up their private Pilates classes and sushi takeout; won't the privilege of the occasional nip 'n' tuck have to go, too? Dr. Victoria Pitts-Taylor, author of "Surgery Junkies: Wellness and Pathology in Cosmetic Culture," predicts that "cosmetic surgery is going to become the new S.U.V., something that you can do without, that is less justifiable for you and your family." Indeed, it seems likely that plastic surgery will experience a decline -- just like nearly every other industry -- but don't expect a permanent cultural change. Pitts-Taylor says, "It is absurd to suggest that cosmetic surgery is dead or will not be used by the middle class in the future."

I wonder how long it will take for someone to earnestly propose the plastic surgery equivalent of the hemline theory.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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