The 6 hottest trends in plastic surgery right now

Feb 29, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. ET
Image: Robert Daly/Getty Images

If it seems like more people around you are having plastic surgery, it's not your imagination. Cosmetic enhancements went up 20 percent in the last year. But what's really surprising is what work people are having done.

The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery’s annual report is out, and it shows that cosmetic enhancements exploded in 2015. Surgical procedures are up 7 percent, while nonsurgical procedures soared by 22 percent to nearly 13 million procedures done. Unlike past years, where plastic surgery tended to be obvious and life-altering, à la giant round silicone implants or face-lifts so tight the eyes looked like cat eyes, the biggest trend now is all about getting work done that doesn't look like you've had anything done.

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"The trend across the board is subtlety," said Dr. Daniel C. Mills, president-elect of the ASAPS. "Ultimately, less is more on every level as patients seek out natural-looking enhancements or tweaks.”

This doesn't surprise Dr. Eugene Elliott, a plastic surgeon at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California. He tells SheKnows that plastic surgery has moved beyond the stereotypes of young women looking for boob and nose jobs or older women trying to turn back time to men and women from every age and walk of life simply looking to make the most of what they have.

This desire for a more natural look is reflected in the fastest-growing plastic surgery trends of 2015. Fat transferring, where fat is removed from a less desirable place (like your tummy) and moved to a more desirable place (like your butt), was No. 1 for women.

Second were injectibles like Botox to prevent wrinkles and Juvederm to plump the face. Showing that the Kardashian "belfie" effect is still in full force, butt lifts and implants were third. Nonsurgical skin tightening methods were fourth, while tattoo removals came in fifth. And liposuction came in sixth, showing that many of us just want less fat overall.

The wide range of new products and services, especially those that bridge the gap between makeup and full-on surgery, are a main reason for the huge jump. Another reason is a slight decrease in the average price for most procedures, making them more affordable.

But just because you can get plastic surgery, it doesn't mean you should, Elliott cautions. He says he will turn down people for cosmetic enhancements, as will any responsible doctor, if people are doing it for the wrong reasons.

"I ask them point-blank what their motivation is," he explains. "This is the one question any person seeking plastic surgery needs to answer honestly: 'Why do I really want this?'" Being pressured by a significant other, doing it because friends are doing it, wanting to look like a celebrity, or trying to keep a spouse from cheating are all reasons Elliott says he has heard but are not good reasons to have work done.

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"Surgery doesn't fix your life; the problems you had before the surgery, you'll still have after the surgery," he says. "A person who is unhappy will find a reason to still be unhappy, regardless of their [surgery] results."

Rather, Elliott says the best motivations to seek plastic surgery are internal reasons. People who have one specific physical problem — and one that can be fixed by surgery — are usually the happiest with their results. For example, breast reductions are one of the surgeries that make people the happiest afterward, he says, for this reason. "You'll often hear from women saying, 'This is something I've wanted to fix my whole life,' and it will make them feel so much better about themselves." He adds that plastic surgery can even help fix some health problems.

"Surgery isn't a magic wand, but it can absolutely make your life better," he says.