Ivo Pitanguy, the forefather of Brazilian plastic surgery, preaches that one day, “It will be clear that aesthetic surgery brings the desired serenity to those that suffer by being betrayed by nature.” Whether you seek a temporary “bagel head” or a revitalized disposition that will make you appear more trustworthy and likeable, advances in medical technology have made purely aesthetic surgery more common than ever. The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ISAPS) releases a biannual report (PDF) on global practices and statistics to assess the field. Although only 4% of the invited 35,000 surgeons participated, the numbers below give a wide sweep of the trends as of 2013.

Below are the most popular cosmetic procedures in major cities across the world.

 What are the most popular cosmetic surgeries around the world?. Image 1.

We chose 8 CITIES across the globe, from Tijuana to Munich, to retrieve our data.


São Paulo



Most popular surgical procedure

227,896 procedures

Brazil has officially taken the crown for most surgical procedures in 2013, performing a total of 1,491,721. Labioplasties (13,683 in 2013) and gluteoplasties/buttock augmentation (63,925 in 2013) were more frequent here than anywhere else in the world. Per Pitanguy’s mantra above, Brazilians naturally (ha!) support beauty and surgery for all. Procedures are tax deductible based upon their abillity to enhance mental and physical wellbeing and the glut of trained surgeons makes prices extremely competitive.

Despite the rosy outlook, advocates of this “necessary vanity” are still susceptible to their day of reckoning: Andressa Urach, former runner-up of the Miss BumBum Brasil contest, nearly died from a hydrogel injection and silicone gel overdose meant to enhance her thighs earlier this year.


Los Angeles



Most popular surgical procedure

Breast augmentation: 313,703 procedures

Most in the world

America is home to the highest number of certified plastic surgeons with an estimated 6,133 board certified (or national equivalent). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the USA is responsible for 15% of breast surgeries in the world (517,012 in 2013) and the incessant celebrity cosmetic surgery circle-jerk on reality television.





Most popular surgical procedure

Botox injections:
1,271,739 procedures

Most in the world

Botox (Botulinum Toxin) injections are technically considered a non-invasive surgical proced. The USA makes the rest of the world seem like a wrinkled prune with the amount of Botox coursing through the nation’s veins. Just under a quarter, 24.7% to be exact, of the total Botox procedures in the world occur in America.





Most popular surgical procedure

62,713 procedures

As far as statistics go, Mexico ranks third after Brazil and the USA for the highest number of both surgical and non-surgical procedures. These figures take the quantity of surgeries into account but not necessarily the nationality of the participants. Mexico has long been sought-after by those seeking cheaper surgeries, but the dangers of insufficient training and botched operations remains.





Most popular procedure

Breast augmentation: 55,160 procedures

Although the female anatomy may have consumed the categories listed thus far, Germany is unique. It holds the record for the most penile enlargements in 2013, coming in strong at 2,786 procedures.






Most popular procedure

50,559 procedures

Cosmetic surgery often begins shortly after a young lady’s quinceañera in Medellín when juvenile femininity swerves toward sexuality. Youth is sexualized and immediately preserved. Photographer Manuela Henao Restrepo recently shot a photographic essay on the nature of cosmetic surgery in Medellín and the expectations that accompany it.





Most popular procedure

Breast augmentation: 38,500 procedures

Nearly 8 out of every 1000 people in Venezuela have gotten some form or another of cosmetic surgery. The trend is so strong that an alternate female mannequin was created for clothing stores by local suppliers that reflected the evolution of their clientele. The figures modeling the clothes now match the idealized buxom beauties with badonk-a-donks.





Most popular procedure

Breast augmentation: 38,820 procedures

The inviting private healthcare system and advanced public hospitals, one of which recently completed the world’s first full face transplant may clock smaller numbers but are highly desired in Western Europe. Spain became an alternative cosmetic surgery outpost due to the United Kingdom’s “cooling off period: before going under the knife, patients in the UK must wait seven days to consider the consequences of their actions. For younger patients 18 and under, three months and a mental assessment stands in their way—unless they jet to Spain’s warmer waters.





Most popular procedure

Lipostructure/lipo-filling: 31,152 procedures

The Italians are most interested in more subtle surgical procedures—lipostructure filling is followed closely by blepharoplasty, commonly known as eyelid surgery, at 27,952 surgeries in 2013. The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture, founded in 1982 to increase dialogue between the Catholic church and current cultural issues, recently deemed plastic surgery “a burqa made of human flesh,” stating that “plastic surgery that is not medico-therapeutic can be aggressive toward the feminine identity.”  Despite falling within the top 10, mum is still the word in Italy as far as plastic surgery goes.





Most popular procedure

37,423 procedures

Iran has been cited as the capital of the nose job. Although surgeries tend to be pricey, the high concentration of surgeries supports the cycle. Women seeking to embrace femininity behind a hijab and men peer-pressured by the snickers of wealthy clientele fall victim to a similar impulse, and so the beauty standard remains in a feedback loop. The state-run Tehran Channel recently announced that it would exclude actors with aesthetic cosmetic surgery from their film and TV series department.

Honorable mention:

South Korea

Although it was cited in 2011, South Korea fell off the ISAPS database this year. It is a mainstay for cosmetic tourism that is expanding significantly. Chinese and Japanese tourists regularly gravitate toward its $9.8 billion personal care market, which also owns the title of world’s highest spending per capita on skincare and male grooming. Chinese tourists have so transformed their appearance by way of all-inclusive cosmetic surgery tours that they often require plastic surgery certificates to prove their identities and return home.

The famed Gangham District, also known as the beauty belt for it’s high concentration of hospitals and clinics specializing in plastic surgery, has created a culture of mass alterations. A recent exposé in The New Yorker found that nearly 50% of women in South Korea had plastic surgery in their twenties, and nearly ⅕ to ⅓ of women in the nation were physically modified. The most extreme plastic surgery addicts even have a proper term for themselves: sung-gui, or “plastic surgery monster.” Plastic surgery has become so accessible in South Korea that ex-cons have even used it to alter their identities and continue on with crime sprees.

COVER IMAGE via shutterstock.com