The XX Factor

Why Do People Get More Cosmetic Procedures During the Holiday Season?

If the needles are out, it must be December.

The holidays: a time to relax around a fire, drink mulled wine, and submit yourself to painful surgical procedures involving fat-melting probes and dozens of tiny needles. “‘Tis the season for family, friends, celebration … and cosmetic surgeries,” read a press release that dropped into my inbox the other day.

I thought at first it was a joke, but it’s true: People really do get more plastic surgeries in December. Surgeons consistently report a surge in people coming to them for procedures at this time of year, with treatments and surgeries often increasing by 20 to 30 percent. Some surgeons take advantage of increased demand by letting people nominate their loved ones for a free facelift (it’s a Christmas miracle!) or offering gift cards for Botox, laser hair removal, or breast implants.

Why is December the most popular month to go under the knife? Is it a last-ditch attempt to look better for your holiday photos and ugly-sweater parties? Perhaps they’re receiving surgery as a “present” (hate gift?) from a spouse, as this touching testimony on Plastic Surgery Portal suggests:

Breast augmentations and other surgeries are popular presents from boyfriends, husbands, and other close loved ones. Kendra Schroeder of Pasadena, California, received a new pair of breasts from her husband in 2004. The 26 year old went in for her surgery just before the holiday parties started.

“I never had breasts, and I wanted something there,” said Schroeder, whose husband spent $7,000 on the procedure. “It’s the most expensive Christmas gift I’ve ever gotten and probably always will be. I feel very loved that he was willing to do that for me.”

Turns out the big reason for the December surge in cosmetic procedures is mundane: “Downtime,” says Dr. Paul Lorenc, a plastic surgeon who has practiced in New York for 23 years. By and large, Lorenc’s patients are getting facial procedures; the holiday break is the perfect window for recovery, he says, because “you can actually disappear.”

Fifteen years ago, people seeking holiday surgeries were often coming to Lorenc for rhinoplasties. That’s changed: Today, they’re asking for far less invasive interventions such as injectables and the PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) facial, an anti-aging procedure that involves injecting your own blood into your face. (Remember Kim Kardashian’s “vampire facial”? That’s the one.) Another popular holiday destination is the ThermiTight, in which Lorenc inserts a probe that emits radio waves, which “liquefy the fat in the neck and tighten the skin,” sort of evoking a Shrinky Dink. Lorenc says he signed up three new patients for the ThermiTight just this morning; they’re all scheduled to have it done between Christmas and New Year’s. Fa la la!