New plastic surgeon survey shows a spike in the number of patients looking for cosmetic procedures.
Aesthetics have always been at the forefront of our society; when people look good, they feel good. But when the COVID-19 pandemic started, like many businesses, cosmetic surgery took a hit. However, with the introduction of vaccinations, restrictions have started to lift and life has become somewhat normal for people again. Like the restrictions, the treatments and trends (like mommy makeovers) in the elective cosmetic world have relaxed as well.
Life is no longer how we knew it to be, and neither is cosmetic surgery. In 2021, when vaccinations became more widespread among the nation, consultations and surgeries were becoming more consistent. That is until the Omicron variant hit and plastic surgeries grinded to a halt once again. With the impact from the pandemic, new concepts and understandings about plastic surgery have arisen thanks to a survey conducted by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, also known as AAFPRS.
Thanks to this research, we have gained insight regarding the report’s main conclusions from five facial plastic surgeons who are at the top of their game. Michael Somenek, a plastic surgeon based in Washington, D.C, was one of the surgeons who saw a surge in consultations during the 2021 season. He noted that “we definitely saw a peak in consultations and surgeries again. People thought they were going to go back to their offices in the new year and then the return was postponed again, so patients who didn’t take advantage of the downtime in 2020 were taking advantage in 2021.”
This holds especially true for the younger generation who are now seeking out cosmetic procedures with expectations that aren’t so practical. This is why, at Dr. Liotta’s office, she has had to refuse procedures for many of the younger customers. Dr. Liotta faults social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram for the unrealistic ideas that the younger patients come in with. She stated, “I spend 45 minutes with every single consult because that expectation setting and communicating what is realistic is so important and has gotten so mixed up over the last few years.”
The focus on recovery for patients is more prudent.
Working from home has become the norm thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this change in work environment, patient recovery has been better than ever before. Prior to the pandemic, patients would often find shortcuts to their recovery time and rush back to work, which would often hold them back from fully recovering.
Tennessee-based and board-certified plastic surgeon, Mary Lynn Moran, M.D, said, “There hasn’t been a need to push recovery timelines to rush back into the office like there was before.” She states that, “I think patients are taking the time to really see these procedures as a self-care moment.”
Small and subtle facial enhancements were prominent a few years ago. These enhancements, often referred to as “tweakments”, are now a thing of the past. Dr. Liotta adds that patients see better results over time with surgery.
Plastic surgeon Dara Liotta, M.D, whose office is based out of New York City, mentions that “In pre-Covid times, there was a little bit of joy that went along with your Botox and filler maintenance – that sense of taking care of yourself.” However, nowadays, patients are opting for more permanent solutions such as the lip lift or brow lift procedures as these offer less risks of overfilled areas due to frequent injections and less upkeep.
Dr. Somenek believes that lip lift procedures will remain relevant throughout 2022. He mentions how some patients have come into his clinic to get their lips dissolved and the result leaves their lips, as Dr. Somenek puts it, looking like “crinkled raisins”. That is, until they get their lip lift. He states, “That gives them a little bit more of a long-term option. Their lip is going to continue to age and probably deflate but in a much slower manner.”
Nevertheless, brow lifts have either a surgical option or a noninvasive one. These options can postpone needing eyelid surgery, both upper or lower, and, according to Dr. Somenek, will leave the patients set for a while before needing a blepharoplasty.
Procedures are starting to become more proactive
Dr. Moran points out that, thanks to social media, patients have begun studying up on the potential risks and outcomes of procedures prior to having a consultation with a plastic surgeon. Millennials have become more knowledgeable and aware and have sought out procedures that older patients usually have.
Corey S. Maas, M.D., who is a board-certified facial plastic surgeon based in San Francisco, notes, “We’re seeing a significant shift to earlier surgical intervention and non-surgical improvement of skin texture.”
Although rhinoplasty has long been the number one facial procedure, Dr. Somenek is confident that eye lifts may surpass rhinoplasty in popularity.
Energy-based treatments are still popular, too, however. One of the most prominent energy-based treatments is radio frequency, which is noted as a cure-all for almost all skin concerns. Radio frequency devices use thermal energy in order to treat the skin and can be used on either the body or face. It improves the texture and tone of the skin and can be used to treat a range of different conditions.
The cosmetic industry is projected to reach a value of $30 billion by 2029 which has caused tech-gurus and investigators to keep up the industry. Dr. Moran believes that technology will ensure that surgeons are offering their patients the best and safest devices.
However, social media’s influence on plastic surgery has left many of the interviewed surgeons with mixed feelings. Dr. Somenek and Dr. Liotta believe that social media can be valuable for the aesthetics world.
Dr. Somenek says, “There is a component of it that does improve the patient’s comfort level because they’ve seen what a good result is,” while Dr. Liotta believes that it has made patients more knowledgeable and aware of the procedures that they want. Despite this, she does have an opposing view on the influence of social media as well. “It’s made patients be a little unrealistic about the process, what to expect, and what is a good result,” she noted.
Like Dr. Liotta, Dr. Moran is hesitant in regards to the effect of social media. She states, “I think some patients see examples of people who look perfect and they do compare themselves, whether it’s filtered or not.”
Men now more likely to pursue surgical treatment
Dr. Somenek mentions that he has seen, in the last six months, more men than ever before coming in to get neck-lifts. “We absolutely are seeing more and more men coming in for all types of procedures,” he says.
Moreover, men are more attracted to the idea of surgery rather than non-invasive treatments. Dr. Somenek mentions that men would rather have liposuction over Kybella, which is noninvasive, “because they are not interested in seeing me every month for three to four treatments.”
Cosmetic procedures have become more prominent than ever and, according to Dr. Somenek and results of the AAFPRS, can inform a lot about a culture and economy. In the past year alone, an estimated 1.4 million procedures, both surgical and non-invasive, have been performed, according to AAFPRS’ report’s findings.
It is thought that an average of 600 more procedures were conducted by plastic surgeons in 2021 than in the year prior which is an outstanding 40% increase. Dr. Maas and Dr. Moran are in agreement: AAFPRS’ report on plastic surgery echoes what has been occurring across the country.
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