Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 41–55

Using Sexual Appeals in Advertising to Sell Cosmetic Surgery: A Content Analysis from 1986 to 2007

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s12119-010-9081-y

Cite this article as:
Hennink-Kaminski, H.J. & Reichert, T. Sexuality & Culture (2011) 15: 41. doi:10.1007/s12119-010-9081-y


This study provides an account of how sexual appeals are used to promote cosmetic surgery. A content analysis of advertisements appearing between 1986 and 2007 in large city magazines reveals that advertisements position surgery as a means of boosting sex-esteem, and enhancing one’s sexual attractiveness, a pattern different from that of branded consumer products and services. Invasive procedures such as liposuction and breast augmentation are the top procedures advertised with sexual appeals and most advertisements feature nude or partially-nude white female models. The findings help expand knowledge about cosmetic surgery advertising, how sex is used to sell an ideal beauty standard attainable through invasive medical services, and the use of sexual content in a new context, that of medical-related advertising for cosmetic surgery.


Sexual appeals Cosmetic surgery Plastic surgery Body image Content analysis Advertising 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.University of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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