Vanity on Hold? Or More Important than Ever?

vanity.jpgNot all the spending deferred during the Great Recession will be missed. Cosmetic surgery sets up a rat race of positional competition for better appearance, with dubious objective benefits. Natasha Singer suggests that many may now be “putting vanity on hold:”

“In Orange County, where plastic surgery is a part of their culture, doctors told me business is down 30 to 40 percent,” said Thomas Seery, the president of, a site devoted to reviewing vanity-medicine procedures. “That tells me something is fundamentally changing there.”

Even a few celebrities, those early adopters of appearance technology, have started to deride the plasticized look that sometimes accompanies cosmetic interventions, a harbinger perhaps of a new climate of restraint in which overt augmentation seems like bad taste.

However, Rhonda Rundle (on the Wall Street Journal’s cosmetic surgery beat) suggests that those hooked on appearance enhancement may merely be scaling down, rather than breaking, the habit. Appearance competition can be vital to getting ahead–or merely staying in place:

Increasingly, many aesthetic patients view their treatments as professional self-preservation rather than as a personal indulgence. Appearances make a difference, says . . . a 57-year-old marketing consultant in Falls Church, Va. “If you’re in the business world and you want to be competitive with the younger people, you need to stay on top of your game,” she says.

[A] plastic surgeon in New York City, says that even people with good jobs and robust savings are worried about the future and are afraid to miss work for surgery. They come in, he says, knowing that they need a facelift but asking if there’s “something I can do to tide them over.” Botox and fillers, he responds.

Botox may turn out to be the methadone of cosmetic surgery addiction.

Photo Credit: Mart & Gree,

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