Breasts and Botox: Aussies among world's top spenders

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Australians are among the world’s top spenders on plastic surgery – ranking in 23rd position – with more than 100,000 procedures performed in 2011, a study reveals.

At the top of the list was the United States, racking up a whopping 3.1 million procedures, ahead of Brazil with more than 1.4 million procedures in 2011, according to data from the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. While the US ranked first in the number of procedures performed, it ranked fourth in procedures per capita, behind South Korea, Greece and Italy.

The results revealed some interesting trends in aesthetic preferences.

More than 40,000 Aussies went under the knife to have breast augmentation surgery, making it the most common plastic surgery performed that year. While the top non-surgical procedure performed was, Botulinum Toxin Type A, better known as botox, accounting for almost 70,000 jabs.

The US unsurprisingly has a penchant for breast augmentation, while three Asian countries – China, Japan and South Korea – ranked in the top-five countries performing rhinoplasties (nose jobs). Botox remained the top non-surgical procedure performed worldwide, while the top surgical procedure overall was lipoplasty, which is becoming ever-more popular as countries battle the obesity epidemic.

The global plastic surgery craze is showing no signs of slowing down with nearly 15 million cosmetic procedures performed around the world in 2011, it found.

The cost of beauty

A separate study has revealed that cosmetic surgery gave the US economy a lift to the tune of $10.4 billion in 2011. And while formal statistics aren’t collected in Australia, experts estimated that $850 million would be spent on cosmetic surgery last year.

Dr Jeremy Hunt, a plastic surgeon in Sydney and spokesperson for the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons told Fairfax he has seen an increase in the number of people seeking non-surgical solutions to ageing.

"If you look at the trends coming from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), there is certainly an increase in the number of non-surgical interventions such as Botox and the use of fillers and I think Australia is embracing those products at the same kind of rate as the United States," he said.

Most health insurance policies in Australia don't cover the cost of cosmetic surgeries to enhance appearance, and patients will typically need to foot the bill – which can run into the tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the procedure. You could take out a personal loan or use a credit card to pay for a procedure, but an automatic savings plan will help you reach your goal debt-free.

For instance, if you deposit $1000 into a high-interest savings account paying, say, 4.5 percent interest and add $250 per month you'll reach a goal of $10,000 in around three years, assuming the interest rate remains steady.

By comparison, spending $10,000 on a credit card and making only the minimum repayment each month (around $200) at a rate of 14 percent could see you forking out an extra $13,567 in interest and take you more than 36 years to repay the debt in full.

Costs aside, remember that despite the best efforts of plastic surgeons to deliver a more youthful appearance, the ageing process is an inevitable reality.


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