From our point of view (and social media feeds), it seems like the interest in and demand for cosmetic procedures has never been higher, and according to new data, it’s not likely to slow down any time soon. According to findings from the recently released annual survey from the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), our plastic surgery trend predictions for 2019 were pretty much spot on — namely, the demand for preventive, minimally invasive procedures (i.e., injectables) was bigger than ever, especially among millennials.
The AAFPRS surveyed more than 700 of its 2,200 board-certified facial plastic surgeon members, and received responses from nearly 175 of them to shed some light on the most popular procedures in 2019. The report looked at both surgical and minimally invasive procedures — both of which experienced a significant increase compared to 2018. According to survey results, the overall number of facial plastic surgery procedures in 2019 increased by 6 percent, with the most common procedures being performed were rhinoplasty, facelifts and blepharoplasty (surgery to correct drooping eyelids).
The increasing popularity of nonsurgical procedures was even more significant, up 13 percent from 2018. In fact, out of all of the procedures performed by surveyed members, 85 percent of them were minimally invasive. “The increase in minimally invasive procedures is not surprising,” says cosmetic dermatologist Heidi Waldorf. “My only concern as the popularity of injectables and devices spreads is the coexistent idea that they are no more serious than a makeup application or hair blowout. These are medical procedures and must be taken seriously and done by medical professionals who are real experts, in real medical settings.”
Topping the list of the three most common noninvasive treatments, in order of most to least popular, were neurotoxins (i.e. Botox), fillers, and skin treatments (like lasers and facials). Interestingly, the skin treatments category experienced the largest year-over-year growth since 2018 — up a whopping 39 percent. Botox, however, has held onto the No. 1 spot as the most popular procedure among patients ages 35 to 55 since 2013.
“It seems that every year we find another awesome use for Botox,” says Austin, Texas-based facial plastic surgeon Ashley Gordon. “To my knowledge, there has never been a more versatile product in aesthetics.”
The “Perfect” Selfie
Fueling the overall growing demand for cosmetics procedures, according to survey data, is social media and all of its many facets. This includes the ubiquitous selfie (72 percent of those surveyed reported seeing patients who sought out cosmetic procedures in order to “look better for selfies”), as well as celebrity influence.
“Social media today is the equivalent of constantly walking around with a mirror in your hand,” says Andrew Jacono, a facial plastic surgeon in New York City. “This, coupled with celebrities and influencers on social media are a few of the reasons [why] we see a continued uptick in patients seeking cosmetic procedures to look better for their selfies. For better or worse, this trend is here to stay.”
Celebrity Influence Still Reigns Supreme
While celebrities have arguably always influenced the cosmetics space, according to survey results, their impact is seemingly on the rise: 84 percent of those surveyed agreed that celebrities have a “moderate-to-great” influence on facial plastic surgery trends (up 6 percent since 2018), listing Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian West, Brad Pitt, and Bradley Cooper, as the most influential of them all. When asked if she ever sees patients who cite a specific social media post, influencer or celebrity as their inspiration for seeking out a cosmetics treatment, Gordon says that it happens “all the time.”
“Patients bring in Instagram posts from fitness models to show me what they want their breasts to look like, [and] the same is true for lips, brows, noses, jawlines, and skin, just to name the most popular requested treatments from social media,” Gordon says. “These images can be very helpful because it’s a non-verbal way for patients to communicate their desired result, [however] I do often have to remind patients that photos of the most beautiful people in the world have been photoshopped, Facetuned, or filtered.”
Why are we so moved by celebrities and influencers on social media? “Social media gives us intimate access to people that we otherwise would not have any contact with,” says Mary Lynn Moran, Nashville-based facial plastic surgeon and the first female president of the AAFPRS. “Increasingly, people are willing to share what procedures they have done to look the way they [do], which destigmatizes the subject. As we study what subtle and more dramatic changes can do to improve someone’s appearance, we become more educated about what we are drawn to and are more likely to elect to make changes in our own appearance.”
Another interesting aspect of social media, in relation to cosmetic procedures, is the way that it’s changing how patients find and choose their dermatologists and plastic surgeons. “Initially, social media influenced parts of the industry, but in the last one to two years, it’s truly revolutionized the entire space,” Gordon says. “It is an incredible tool for patient education, and not only has it changed the way patients learn about procedures but also how they choose their providers.”
“Prejuvenation” Is Popular Among Millennials
As for 2020 and beyond, when asked to predict the top future trends in the space, 73 percent of survey respondents cited preventative treatments among millennials — also nicknamed “prejuvenation.” The whole idea behind the concept, as its name implies, is that having noninvasive treatments at a younger age will prevent the need for surgical procedures down the line.
“The millennial generation has grown up under the contestant scrutiny of social media – they don’t know any different,” Jacono says. “This constant magnifying glass drives their continued desire for ‘tweak-ments,’ or multiple small procedures to stave off any drastic rejuvenation as they are continuously prioritizing their appearance. This is ‘prejuvenation.'”
In other words, millennials “want to maintain their aesthetic edge against aging, so they start before the visible signs appear,” Gordon says. This trend is likely what’s fueling the increased interest in noninvasive procedures like Botox and laser treatments.
Regardless of the current trends in plastic surgery or your reasoning for seeking out a specific procedure, be sure to always consult a board-certified dermatologist and/or facial plastic surgeon before making a final decision.