Is lipo… back? While liposuction never really went away, it has once again taken the crown as the most popular plastic surgery performed in the United States. And its significant rise in popularity could be a telling signal of how body inclusivity and acceptance is evolving.
What the data says
A study done by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) found that liposuction was the most-performed surgery of 2022, up a significant 23% from 2019. The ASPS, which represents 92% of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States, reports that about 1.5 million cosmetic surgical procedures were performed in 2022 and about 325,000 of them were liposuction.
Liposuction has long ranked in the top five most popular procedures in the U.S., but before 2021, it hadn’t held the top spot since 2005. This year it didn’t just hold on to that position, it dug its heels in deep.
A 23 percent increase may not sound like a ton, but that’s actually a big jump. For comparison’s sake: Breast augmentation, the second most popular procedure, only rose by four percent from 2019 to 2022. (After breast augmentation, abdominoplasty, breast lifts, and eyelid surgery rounded out the 2022 top five.)
“I think the lipo stats are essentially reflective of post-pandemic emergence,” says Dr. Gregory Greco, DO, FACS, a board-certified plastic surgeon in New Jersey who sits on the board of ASPS. “People either got in amazing shape or, without the motivation of gyms, had a little bit of a blockade to their fitness and all of a sudden things start to snowball.”
Dr. Steven Williams, a board-certified plastic surgeon and president elect of ASPS, points to the pandemic as a factor in the massive rise in plastic surgery overall, citing time away from the office with remote work, more flexibility to recover, and additional financial resources. “If you look overall, there’s an increase in procedures,” he explains, noting that abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) — 2022’s third most popular procedure — is up nearly 40% from 2019. “Specifically with lipo, though, there a few things that are going on,” he says. “More and more, it’s a part of multiple combined operations. If you’re doing a tummy tuck, a face lift, brachioplasty [arm lift], a thigh lift, all of those involve liposuction most of the time.”