Saturday, April 16, 2005

I get press releases, Volume 11: Better living through useless statistics

The 19 Minutes staff is at work at this weird hour on Saturday morning, as we help break in a new local Weekend Edition host. She's pretty self-reliant, though, so it yields a unique Saturday morning opportunity to clean my desk and catch up with some old mail.

And that's how I came across this important packet of information, apparently provided by the god of blog material. It is, of course, the "2005 Report of the 2004 Statistics" from the National Clearinghouse of Plastic Surgery Statistics.

It's 18 pages long (so perhaps we won't reprint all of it), and also includes three press releases to help us interpret the numbers. However, it'll be more fun to interpret them on our own. Okay, we can't guarantee it'll be fun, but we're going to do it anyway.

We begin (at the end, so to speak) with the news that 3,496 people underwent a procedure called a "buttock lift" in 2004. Anticipating your next question, we learn that 210 of those people were men. That represents an overall increase of 338% since 2000 -- but a 16% drop (literally, I guess) since just last year. The hefty guide doesn't speculate on the reason for these changes, but looking back, the overall increase roughly corresponds to the slimming down of Al Roker, while the drop in buttock lifts (or, perhaps, the lift in buttock drops) among men took place at a time when Michael Moore's movies saw a surge in popularity. Maybe it's just a coincidence, but here at 19 Minutes Past the Hour, we're forced to fill in the details when the National Clearinghouse of Plastic Surgery Statistics falls down on the job. In its defense the Clearinghouse does include, in its "Quick Facts" section, the fact that 10 times more buttock lifts were performed in 2004 than in 1992.

Onward. The National Clearinghouse of Plastic Surgery Statistics is also kind enough to reinforce all sorts of useful stereotypes. We learn, for example, that patients in Region 5 led the way in liposuction, undergoing 32% of the more than 324,000 such procedures last year. Region 5 includes people in... California. (It also includes patients in AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, UT, WY, AK, HI, OR, and WA, but it strikes us as unlikely the Montanans are driving these statistics.)

At the same time, we also find out that patients in Region 1 -- by far -- had the most lip augmentation surgeries, undergoing a full 43% of them in 2004. It will surprise no one to learn that Region 1 includes the network news anchor-intensive state of New York, along with New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and the New England states.

Finally, we find out that rhinoplasty (that'd be nose jo- er, nose reshaping) patients spent $1,017,728,749 on their surgeries last year, while the buttock lifters only contributed $12 million to the plastic surgery economy.

It all adds up to one conclusion -- it's amazing what passes for "interesting" at 6:00 in the morning.

1 comment:

Carol Davidson said...

Mitch, this essay was uplifting. Thank you.