Economic Downturn Sucks The Fat From The Cosmetic Surgery Biz

As belts tighten and families trim the fat from their budgets, it is poignantly ironic that one of the first things to be chopped from the list of luxuries in certain families is getting their own bodies chopped up. I mean, of course, that great American pastime: cosmetic surgery.

An article in the San Diego Union-Tribune recently examined the sassy, slenderizing effects of the downturn on the cosmetic surgery industry, which raked in $13.2 billion in 2007. The news isn’t good:

“‘We're seeing fewer consultations,’ said Dr. Robert Singer of La Jolla. ‘During a time of downturn in the economy, practices see fewer shoppers.’”

“Shoppers” meaning people who want pieces sucked/chopped/frapp├ęd out of them. At this point, the doctors speculate that the reason is simply that the money isn’t there. Mom and Dad aren’t willing to shell-out for little Helvetica’s new nose when they are wondering how they’ll even pay for her college. Before long, however, our problems may just correct themselves. I.e. food prices will have us all slimming down the old-fashioned way by natural starvation.

While this is good news for people like me with a hideously twisted body image (So...hungry...), it comes as little comfort to doctors and medical suppliers. One example:

“Mentor Corp. of Santa Barbara reduced the upper range of its sales estimates for 2008 by $15 million in part because of declining sales of its breast implants in the United States.”

What have we become when young women can’t afford to take that first step towards becoming a silicon-based life form? Is this the same world in which Norman Rockwell limned his immortal painting, "Freedom from Flatness?" But wait...There may be another explanation for all of this: Americans may still be leaving cartilage and fat on the OR floor, but far, far away from home.
The international medical tourism trade is booming. For the same price or less, medical tourism firms and affiliated hospitals are offering the same procedures you find at your local Mom n’ Pop Lipo Stop, but in destinations like Brazil, India and Thailand, allowing people to recover in a more clement, relaxing climate. NuWire discussed the medical tourism industry and how investors might take advantage of it as it grows, including a list of the top 5 places to invest. Thailand didn’t make the cut because military coups don’t do much for one’s convalescence.
Having been hospitalized a number of times throughout Asia, I can vouch for the fact that the staff in those countries is equally if not more capable than the staff in American hospitals. And having also lived and been hospitalized in Atlanta, I’d say that the Thai doctors spoke better English, too, so you needn’t worry about communication issues.

So while the Nip/Tuck set may be facing thinner times, the news isn’t quite so dismal for the rest of us. On the next family trip to Costa Rica, mom can regain the full, supple lips she’s chewed away with nervous tension, dad can come back missing half of his intestinal tract, and little Helvetica can go to prom with a brand new schnoz. Best of all, investors who give people a place to rest while they recuperate and face the uncertainty and agony of their mutilation might walk away with a severe case of obesity...of the wallet.

This was a guest post by Trenton Flock, Web Editor at NuWire.


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September 6, 2008 at 8:10 AM Anonymous said...

Very funny article, really. At least you aren't judgmental when discussing cosmetic surgery. It's refreshing to see a balanced viewpoint. As far as being hospitalized multiple times in Asia and receiving excellent care, the treatment of STDs is different than having major surgery.

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