Beauty Perceptions Shift as People Get Older


A survey conducted jointly by the American Society for Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aestheti Plastic Surgery shows how people's appearance preferences shift as they age.

What people find beautiful about themselves may be different than what they find appealing in another person. That's just one finding from a recent consumer survey conducted on the Beauty for Life Web site, a joint venture of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).

Visitors were asked "What aspect of physical beauty do you find most appealing in another person?" In their 20s, 30s and 40s, respondents look for a fit, well-proportioned body; youthful skin ranked at the top for respondents in the 50s and 60s. When considering "Which part of your body are you most concerned about?" respondents ranked their abdomen/hips No. 1 in their 30s. But surprisingly, respondents listed the face, not their body, as the most popular choice in the 20s, 40s, 50s and 60s.

"It is always important to understand what our patients are most concerned about at different stages of their lives. We want to be equipped to help our patients make the right decisions to maintain their beauty at every age—no matter which type of cosmetic medical procedure they are interested in," said ASAPS president Renato Saltz, MD.

Additional results were revealed when answering "Which part of your body are you most concerned about?" While respondents primarily chose their face, significantly more respondents are concerned about their abdomen/hips than their breasts/chest—with the disparity increasing throughout the decades:

  • 30s: 37% chose abdomen/hips as their top concern while only 18% chose breasts.
  • 40s: 32% selected abdomen/hips and only 10% breasts.
  • 50s: 25% chose abdomen/hips compared to 7% breasts.
  • 60s: 23% indicated concern about their abdomen/hips, while only 7% selected breasts.

Community members were also asked to consider "The most important reason to maintain your physical appearance." "To boost self-confidence" was the top choice across all decades, with "To attract potential partners" a close second for the 20s. In the 30s and 40s, the second-most popular choice shifted to "To increase professional opportunities," which remained the number two choice in the 50s, but by a much smaller percentage. In the 60s, increasing professional opportunities fell to third behind "To help make friends."

"The survey on the BeautyforLife Web site has provided interesting data about patients' attitudes, motivation and perception. Our goal is to provide useful tools for prospective patients to help them first decide if a cosmetic medicine procedure is right for them and then to provide information on how to choose an appropriate provider," said Richard D'Amico, MD, past president of ASPS.

Another question asked members to contemplate "The most important factor in maintaining beauty." While adherence to a healthy diet, regular exercise and skin care were popular choices, approximately one in five members felt that a cosmetic medical procedure was most important in the 50s and 60s.

This survey was conducted by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, via their Beauty for Life program, a series of patient education tools, including the interactive Web site, designed to help people look and feel their best throughout their lives. More detailed survey results are available at by contacting the organizations.

About ASPS

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is one of the largest organizations of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. Representing more than 6,700 physician members, the Society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 94% of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States.


The 2,400-member American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) is one of the only plastic surgery organizations devoted entirely to the advancement of cosmetic surgery. ASAPS is recognized throughout the world as an authoritative source for cosmetic surgery education.

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