The Stigma Around Cosmetic Treatments

The stigma around cosmetic treatments

When talking about cosmetic treatments, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Often cosmetic procedures are associated with facial or body distortion. Although many non-surgical procedures like microdermabrasion successfully bypass stigma, more invasive treatments like facelifts often get sensationalized depictions. It doesn’t help that excessive and careless treatments that deliver bad results scream louder than the more natural and successful procedures.

What are cosmetic treatments?

Also referred to as cosmetic treatments, these are non-surgical procedures that are almost entirely non-invasive and aimed at helping people improve their physical appearance, for example, by masking the signs of aging and rejuvenating the skin for a youthful look. A few examples include facial injections, skin rejuvenation, laser treatments and non-invasive body contouring treatments among many others.

How common are cosmetic treatments?

McKinsey’s survey showed that the US market grows at a CAGR of almost 14%. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) revealed that in 2018 alone, around 3.8 million cosmetic surgeries were performed on people of age 55 and above. Men as well account for 5% of all dermal filler and bio stimulator treatments in 2018 and these rose to 7% in 2021. Point is, more and more people are getting beauty treatments done, so why is there still so much stigma around it.

The market for cosmetic treatments is growing. More people are getting cosmetic procedures done, such as injectables, skin rejuvenation and other cosmetic treatments which is resulting in increase of market share.
Projected Increase in Market Size of Non-Invasive Aesthetic Treatments or Cosmetic Procedures Market in USA

People often believe cosmetic treatments to be a sign of superficiality and vainness. Dr. Alan Matarasso, a renowned plastic surgeon and former president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons said:

“I think that there are still pockets of situations where people want to attribute what they’ve achieved physically to not having undergone the knife… as though there’s a badge for people who say that they look this good on their own… an implied condescension toward those who aren’t ‘natural”.

Times are changing

It’s going to take time to undo decades of stigma around cosmetic treatments. The good news is that thanks to body positivity movements, awareness about health and beauty, and social media coverage (for example this one) from real people talking about their experiences, we’re moving in the right direction.

For some people getting an aesthetic treatment might not even be elective, like survivors of breast cancer choosing reconstruction surgery. When you think about scenarios like these, you’ll see that for people choosing this route, it’s not just about restoring form but also feeling comfortable in their skin again. Would you call someone vain for getting laser treatments to remove scars from traumatic or painful experiences in the past?

If you think that these cases are too extreme and it’s understandable someone would need to get aesthetic treatments, then we’ll share more subtle examples. Cosmetic treatments aren’t just about looks, they go skin deep to affect people on a psychological level and this transcends into other aspects of life. InStyle shared the story of a woman who had laser hair removal:

“I am very happy. I had laser hair removal, and once [the] hair was removed my clothing changed, my confidence changed … I don’t hesitate to put on a bathing suit because I am always ready to go!” 

Many people might not even consider laser hair removal as a cosmetic treatment even though it does come under that category.

Wrapping it up

Too much of anything is always bad. While it’s true that there are examples of extreme cosmetic procedures teetering on the edge of body dysmorphia, there are equally as many examples where aesthetic treatments have made a significant positive impact on people’s lives. What is your viewpoint? Let’s talk about it!