Cosmetic surgery growth linked to age discrimination

06 September 2019

By plastic surgeon Dr Dirk Kremer

Injectable Botox treatments have increased by a whopping 800% since 2000, and a recent study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal suggests that the boom in cosmetic surgery and non-surgical procedures over the past two decades is largely fuelled by age discrimination.

The study found that a significant proportion of cosmetic surgery patients claimed that they were choosing to undergo anti-aging procedures due to age discrimination that they had experienced or because of a fear of facing age discrimination.

Better understanding cosmetic surgery and age discrimination

Rebecca Pearl, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine said the study is the first attempt to better understand the link between age discrimination and the cosmetic procedures that patients choose to undergo.

The researchers who conducted the study questioned 50 plastic surgery patients over the course of one year. Each patient was over the age of 18 and were mostly women with an average age of 49.4 years. Two-thirds of the patients received anti-aging treatments such as Botox and dermal fillers.

Over 30% of those surveyed say they had experienced age discrimination and reported a significantly poorer self-rate health, lower self-esteem and a strong fear of facing age discrimination again in the future. Around 36% of those who experienced age discrimination say it occurred in an interpersonal context when they felt excluded by friends, family members and/or work colleagues, were teased or mocked, or had negative assumptions made about them due to their age.

Psychological distress and physical health problems

The study found that the stress of experiencing or anticipating age discrimination increases the risk of psychological distress and can also lead to physical health problems.

About 20% of those surveyed claimed to have faced age discrimination in the workplace, resulting in them either being fired, losing out on a job or being denied a promotion due to age.

Being single also seemed to have an influence on age discrimination worries, with participants who were not married or living with a partner showing a much greater fear of age discrimination. The main reasons given by the patients for seeking out cosmetic anti-aging procedures included a desire to “look younger” and as “as young as I feel”, which researchers believe suggests a disassociation with an “older identity” and refusal to accept the natural aging process.

It’s not just women feeling the pressure to look younger

Figures from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons show that men received about 6% of injectable anti-wrinkle procedures during 2017, which is a 347% increase since 2000. The number one non-surgical procedure among men aged between 35-50 in the US is Botox, and the popularity of Botox among men is certainly mirrored in the UK and much of Europe.

The researchers concluded that perceived age discrimination is associated with poorer self-rated health, lower self-esteem and a growing fear of facing age discrimination in the future.

Here at Harley St Aesthetics I perform a range of surgical and non-surgical cosmetic treatments that aim to enhance your features in a subtle way, leaving you with results that look as natural as possible. To discuss a procedure that may be suitable for you, don’t hesitate to book in your initial consultation. Call 0845 519 7232, e-mail or complete our online contact form.


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