Cosmetic Surgery Procedures as Luxury Goods : Measuring Price and Demand in Facial Plastic Surgery

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ObjectivesTo evaluate the relationship between cosmetic facial plastic surgery procedure price and demand, and to test the hypothesis that these procedures function as luxury goods in the marketplace, with an upward-sloping demand curve.MethodsData were derived from a survey that was sent to every (N = 1727) active fellow, member, or associate of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, assessing the costs and frequency of 4 common cosmetic facial plastic surgery procedures (face-lift, brow-lift, blepharoplasty, and rhinoplasty) for 1999 and 1989. An economic analysis was performed to assess the relationship of price and demand for these procedures.ResultsA significant association was found between increasing surgeons' fees and total charges for cosmetic facial plastic surgery procedures and increasing demand for these procedures, as measured by their annual frequency (P≤.003). After a multiple regression analysis correcting for confounding variables, this association of increased price with increased demand holds for each of the 4 procedures studied, across all US regions, and for both periods surveyed.ConclusionsCosmetic facial plastic surgery procedures do appear to function as luxury goods in the marketplace, with an upward-sloping demand curve. This stands in contrast to other, traditional, goods for which demand typically declines as price increases. It appears that economic methods can be used to evaluate cosmetic procedure trends; however, these methods must be founded on the appropriate economic theory.Arch Facial Plast Surg.2002;4:105-110

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