No, not the World Health Organization (WHO), but another entity entirely, ISAPS.
International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) recently published survey data ranking Colombia at 11th for volume according to the most recent statistics (2011) available. 211,879 total procedures were reported. Colombia currently ranks #27th globally in population with a 2013 estimated population of 47 million. Considering the modest population size of Colombia this statistic may reflect both Colombian cultural expectations and the growing trend of medical tourism.
Countries that perform the most cosmetic surgery procedures***:
1. United States: 1,094,146
2. Brazil: 905,124
3. China: 415,140
These top three nations also represent a total population of 1.86 billion people. Brazil, in particular is also widely known as the medical tourism destination of choice for plastic surgery.
Plastic surgery in Colombia
Of the 211, 879 procedures, 65,075 or 30.7% were breast enhancement procedures. Liposuction accounted for 23% of all cosmetic surgical procedures.
Questionable study results due to lack of participation
However, the accuracy of the data collected by a joint American – Brazilian team is questionable given the low percentage of participation by licensed member surgeons. Out of 20,000 eligible ISAPS member surgeons, only 996 participated in the organization’s survey. Additionally, of the .04 percent of surgeons reporting their surgical practices, 43% (431 surgeons) were based in the United States. Of the remaining 565 surgeons represented the remainder of the worldwide plastic surgery community, 172 of these participants were from Brazil. The final statistics provided for each country are based on estimates extrapolated from a representative sample from survey responses received.
Are the results any surprise, given the players? But then again, maybe these results will encourage more Latin American surgeons (and surgeons in other countries) to participate more fully in the academic activities of their specialty societies.
*Mexico was also in the top five with 299,835 procedures.
***As an interesting aside, the island nation of Japan ranked fourth.