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Plastic Surgeries Could Give Investors a Lift

4 February 2015 in Trading Ideas

That youthful glow has never gone out of style. And increasingly, we’re chasing the look without the traditional nip and tuck.

A recent article in the Daily Beast highlighted a growing trend in America’s cosmetic tastes: plastic surgery without the surgery. Last year, the nation’s penchant for “minimally invasive” procedures (such as Botox) was closing in on that of its more traditional counterpart, with almost half of the year’s plastic surgery spending going on the former.1

In what was the most financially lucrative year for cosmetic procedures since 2008’s recession, more than $5 billion went on treatments patients could get during a lunch break.

As the article noted, in a faster-paced world where nearly anything can be bought with the tap of a button, speedy treatments are inevitably a hit.

“In the hustle and bustle of today’s society, everyone wants to have a fast recovery as quick as possible and see a result, so these less invasive surgeries are very attractive,” said Dr. Darrick Antell, an official spokesperson for the American Society of Plastic Surgery.

“People have absolutely been opting for these kinds of procedures over the past few years. The only down side of the injectables is that they’re not typically permanent, but it at least gives the patient the chance to try it on for a while, and see what it might be like if they went through a more extensive operation,” Antell said.

Another benefit: the far lower cost than surgeries like breast augmentations and rhinoplasties has proven to be key in drawing in droves of clients.

The Daily Beast reported that Botox was easily the year’s most popular quick fix, with a 15.6% increase in people having the procedure, while 9.5 million injectable treatments were undertaken overall, marking a 13% rise in these kinds of surgeries.

In its most recent report for 2013, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery cited a 12% overall increase in cosmetic procedures performed in the US.2

More than 11 million cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures were performed, totaling more than $12 billion for the first time since the Great Recession. Of that total, more than $7 billion was spent on surgical procedures and more than $5 billion was spent on nonsurgical procedures.

Liposuction replaced breast augmentation as the most frequently performed surgical procedure with a 16% increase and more than $1 billion spent on the procedure nationwide.

“The numbers do not come as a surprise,” said Jack Fisher, MD, President of ASAPS. “Technological advances, less-invasive procedures, greater accessibility are making aesthetic procedures, surgical and nonsurgical, far more attractive to the public at-large. Further, the rebounding economy is encouraging people to start investing in themselves once again.”

Here’s another potentially underrated growth market: while men were responsible for only 9.4% of all cosmetic procedures, the total spent by men has increased by more than 273% from 1997.

If you believe the market for cosmetic procedures will continue to grow, you may want to consider the Vanity Flair motif, which has a 12.4% weighting in stocks of companies focused on aesthetic treatments.

The motif has declined 1.9% in the past month. In that same time, the S&P 500 is down 1.7%. Over the past 12 months, the motif has increased 26.5% while in that same time, the S&P 500 has risen 18.4%.

1Charlotte Lytton, “Less Rhinoplasty, More Chin-Melting: Plastic Surgery is Weirder Than Ever,” thedailybeast.com, Jan. 30, 2015, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/30/less-rhinoplasty-more-chin-melting-plastic-surgery-is-weirder-than-ever.html#, (accessed Feb. 2, 2015).

2Press release, The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, March 20, 2014, http://www.surgery.org/media/news-releases/the-american-society-for-aesthetic-plastic-surgery-reports-americans-spent-largest-amount-on-cosmetic-surger, (accessed Feb. 2, 2015).