First, some facts: Liposuction is now the second most popular cosmetic surgery (right behind breast augmentation) in this country. In 2019 alone, a whopping 265,000 people got it on areas like their butt, stomach, and arms—and 1 out of every 6 of them was under 30 years old.
That last part is the one that kind of shocks me. We’re talking about 45,000 young people getting a $3,500ish procedure in a time when lots of us are saddled with low wages and high debt. I’m not one to judge—women can (and should!) choose what to do with their bodies and money—but it’s not like lipo is a low-stakes thing: It’s a legit surgery that requires anesthesia, incisions, stitches, and recovery time…aka stuff people usually try to avoid. (Just me?)
Then again, maybe I’m not that shocked. Because I, too, have an IG feed that’s full of fitspo and transformation pics and #sponcon moments touting buzzy cosmetic procedures. And the increasing popularity of injectables has already made our generation less fazed by poking and prodding in the name of feeling great.
Here’s another thing millennials aren’t shy about: a desire for instant gratification, which may be why age-old lipo is still kicking in this modern world. According to plastic surgeons Cat Begovic, MD, and David Rapaport, MD, it’s one of the only procedures that creates immediately visible change. The same can’t be said for newer treatments like CoolSculpting and SculpSure—which, yep, you also know from Instagram and which tend to take weeks or months to show fairly minor results.
But my biggest bet for the reason lipo has become A Thing again? Our generation is hyper-focused on transparency, and young people are just a lot more comfortable sharing what we’re up to than previous generations were. Take our hero Cardi B, who proudly told her followers about her lipo last year (and the intense recovery process that followed). “I’m probably too open about it,” adds Alix, 30, about the lipo she recently got on her chin. “I’ll tell coworkers, first dates, strangers in line at the grocery store.”
We’re also more down to discuss the reasons behind our choices. “I work really hard, and I think I deserve to be happy with my body,” says Sabina, a 27-year-old lipo patient. “This was fully a ‘me’ decision—for me, by me. And I’m really freaking happy about it.”
Of course, there are v valid arguments to be made about the fact that if the world were more celebratory of more bodies, people might not feel the need to make those kinds of “me” decisions in the first place. “Getting lipo made me realize I maybe had some body dysmorphia,” admits Alix, who, FWIW, has no regrets about her procedure. Almost no one else I interviewed did either, and truly: to each her own. For me though? Will avoid the stitches and the $3,500 bill.