As much as society likes tell us to love the skin we’re in, self-esteem is delicate and sometimes difficult to maintain. Both women and men face mounting pressure from the media and from our peers to appear attractive, as studies consistently find that our attractiveness can influence everything from our love life to our career prospects. And while certain ideas of beauty may be culturally subjective, there are a few ideals – like larger breasts, thinner waists, flatter abs, and firmer skin – that are usually considered universally ‘beautiful’. If you’re not blessed with the features your culture desires, life can be all the more difficult – regardless of how often people like to tell you “it’s what’s on the inside that counts.” It’s not difficult to understand why so many of us turn to surgical enhancements to meet beauty expectations.
In some countries, like the United States, plastic surgery is very expensive, making it a luxury that only for those with the financial means to afford it. That’s not the case in all nations, however: In some countries, plastic surgery is affordable to any average earner, making it more common than Americans and Canadians could ever imagine, and even prompting foreigners to travel to remote places for cheap surgical procedures. So, which countries are the most plastic surgery-enhanced? We’ve ranked these nations based on the results of a survey conducted by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ISAPS) in 2013.
10. Iran – 174, 778 Procedures
Iran is a shocking addition to this list simply because of how traditional the country historically is. Many believe the strong religious ideals are prompting a rebellion among some young people, and girls as early as age 14 are undergoing surgery, often to look more like the actors and actresses they see in popular Hollywood films. The most popular surgery for Iranians, by far, is rhinoplasty, otherwise known as a nose job. 37, 423 Iranians underwent nose surgery in 2013 alone. Many women are asking for noses that are smaller and more upturned. Some believe the focus on the face is because women aren’t allowed to show off their bodies, as they are often covered by a hijab.
9. Argentina – 287,823 Procedures
Argentina is one of several countries capitalizing on low-cost surgical procedures, offering vacation packages that have been called “tummy tuck and a tango” among other cheeky terms. Their surgery costs are substantially lower than they are in the United States, Canada, and many European countries. This fact has people flocking from all over for procedures. But it’s not only tourists going under the knife here in Argentina; it’s estimated that 1 in 30 Argentines has gotten work done. And there is certainly more pressure to be beautiful given how attractive many of the locals are reputed to be. It’s no wonder that foreigners and those not as aesthetically blessed would seek out surgical options to help fit in a little better.
8. Venezuela – 291, 388 Procedures
Venezuela has had more international beauty queens than any other country in the world, and some may say they’ve gone a bit too far with their beauty obsession. After petroleum, the beauty industry is the largest and most profitable industry in the country. Young girls compete in national pageants in an effort to become well-paid models, something that would allow them to escape the crime-ridden areas of a notoriously dangerous country. Modeling, finishing schools, and plastic surgery are all fairly common for young women. Some even consider breast augmentation as common as highlighting your hair, just another part of a process to make yourself more attractive.
7. Italy – 375,256 Procedures
It’s no secret that Italy excels in all things artistic and romantic, and when you think about it, they are known for their beautiful women. Sometimes that comes down to a little artistic help, not simply good genetics. Italians are a creative bunch and they don’t leave their retouching to their paintings and architecture – they also like to retouch their people. The most common procedures in Italy differ from most countries where liposuction and breast augmentation rule: Italians are less likely to use Botox and more likely to use resorbable fillers for wrinkle reduction and, of the surgical procedures, are more likely to get lipostructure (a process where your own fat is used to augment parts of the body like buttocks or breasts) and eyelid surgery than liposuction.
6. Colombia – 420,177 Procedures
When we return from vacation, many of us expect to be sporting a sun tan (perhaps a sunburn if we’re not so lucky). But Colombia is offering an entirely new vacation experience. Instead of coming back with a few extra pounds from all the delicious food you eat, you can now return to the office with new breasts and a little fat taken off the midsection, along with a few subtle scars. It’s known as Plastic Surgery Tourism, and yes, a big thing in Colombia. Included in your vacation package, you might get an apartment with a maid service for two weeks and a little surgery on the side.
5. Spain – 447,177 Procedures
For a country with only 942 plastic surgeons, there sure is a lot of plastic surgery going around in Spain. It comes out to about 475 surgeries per doctor per year, which sounds like serious job security. The most popular procedure isn’t that surprising; it’s the non-surgical Botox with 93,578 procedures done in 2013. After that, you have fillers and breast augmentation, with liposuction not far behind.
4. Germany – 654,115 Procedures
The most popular procedures in Germany are actually the non-surgical ones – Botox and fillers top the list. But of the surgical procedures, it comes as no surprise that Germans want the most popular options of larger breasts and less fat. But don’t assume it’s only women going under the knife here in Germany. In fact, it’s the number one country for enlargements of the *ahem* favourite male appendage. 2,786 men decided to enlarge their manhood; compared to the United States, where only 61 men underwent the same surgery, you’ll see just how dramatic that statistic really is.
3. Mexico – 884,353 Procedures
Mexico has recently made headlines for a booming plastic surgery industry that allows Americans to travel south of the border for procedures at half the cost – or more – than in their home country. Neither country keeps track of how many of the procedures recorded are done on Americans, but there has been a lot of interest in this area. The FDA though, warns that it may not be safe, and several botched procedures resulting in disfigurement – or worse – have made the news. It still doesn’t stop people from seeking out surgeries like liposuction, breast augmentations and tummy tucks, some of the most common surgical procedures done in Mexico.
2. Brazil – 2,141,257 Procedures
Brazil is a country known for their beautiful women. Considering the Brazilian wax is named after this country due to how tiny some of the bikinis are, it’s no surprise that they enjoy showing off their bodies and take their appearance very seriously. One plastic surgeon who studied in Brazil said Brazilians look at the female form differently, that they consider the body a work of art, and plastic surgery is considered just one more way to refine the body’s beauty. When you look at it that way, it’s no wonder that Brazil is number two on our list – or that they have more tummy tucks than any other country, including the top spot on our list. Other top procedures include liposuction, breast augmentation and a breast lift, along with the non-surgical solution to wrinkles known as Botox injections.
1. United States – 3,996,631 Procedures
The United States is known to boast that they’re the best in everything, and when it comes to vanity they certainly top the list. Not only did they have more plastic surgeries performed in 2013 than any other country, they also have more plastic surgeons than any other country, with 6,133 nationwide.
The most common procedures in the U.S likely won’t come as a surprise: Breast augmentation and liposuction are the most popular surgical procedures and Botox injections are the number one non-surgical procedure done in the country. As the country’s economy slowly starts to improve after the global economic crisis, plastic surgery is on the rise. In fact, Americans spent more money on plastic surgery in 2013 than they have since 2008, totaling about $12 billion. 2013 saw lots of men going under the knife, with about 3 million having surgical procedures – the most common of which were rhinoplasties and breast reductions. Yes, men getting breast reductions is a real trend in the U.S.