The New Aging Face

The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) has released its annual survey, which explores the top trends in facial plastic surgery over the past year and predictions for where the field is headed. This year’s member survey reveals a new trend that points to more and more young adults and teens opting for aesthetic procedures. In 2015, a whopping 64 percent of member facial plastic surgeons saw an increase in cosmetic surgery or injectable treatments in patients under age 30. “The teen and young adult years are a highly impressionable time and the more consumers are inundated with celebrity images via social media, the more they want to replicate the enhanced, re-touched images that are passed off as reality,” says Edwin Williams III, president of the AAFPRS. “We are seeing a younger demographic than ever before seeking consultations and treatments with facial plastic surgeons all over the country.”

Whether you call it the “Kardashian Effect” or “Selfie Mania,” the influence of celebrities and social media on Millennials’ decisions to have facial cosmetic procedures is real and powerful. The year 2015 saw the phenomenon reaching beyond Kim-inspired butt injections with Kylie and Kendall eclipsing their older siblings in the spotlight. Between their staggering Instagram following, high profile friends and endless stream of up-close-and-personal selfies, the next generation of the Kardashian clan spurred a flurry of interest in facial feature enhancements from their peers. “The prevalence of non-invasive procedures like lasers, peels and injections are making it even more appealing for young people to dip their toe into aesthetic enhancements before aging is even a concern,” says Williams. “However, younger patients should be advised to be careful not to go overboard too soon with injections. In fact, some procedures like overly plumped lips and a frozen forehead can actually age you beyond your years.”

Celebrity and Social Media

The influence of celebrities and selfies on plastic surgery is not just a Gen X movement. Patients of all ages are becoming desensitized to plastic surgery as more celebrities come clean about their cosmetic tweaks. Having a little “work done” has become less taboo. In fact, 82 percent of surveyed surgeons reported that celebrities where a major influence in their patients’ decision to have plastic surgery last year. “The commoditization of cosmetic procedures, both surgical and especially non-invasive, is increasing due to Groupon and other daily deal aggregators as well as the prevalence of plastic surgery on TV,” says Williams. “When we see things like BOTOX offered in gyms and salons, or on-demand injectables through new apps, this runs the risk of de-medicalizing what truly are medical procedures that should be administered in a controlled environment by a highly trained healthcare professional.”

Results Trump Cost

“We are very happy to report that each year we see a more highly educated consumer,” says Williams. “Thanks to the wealth of information available to patients on the Internet from validated sources and knowledgeable media, consumers are now far more savvy about choosing a qualified surgeon.” Not surprisingly, the survey found that the top concern of patients is finding the right practitioner whom they can trust, followed at quite a distance by concerns for the costs and visible results. Pain and discomfort was of the least concern, perhaps due to improved methods of topical anesthesia and more less painful treatment options.

According to the survey, the top three trends in 2015 were people requesting natural-looking rhinoplasty results (74 percent), combined surgical and non-surgical procedures (72 percent), and eyelid procedures to look less tired (71 percent). More than half of surgeons also saw a rise in patients asking to get their cheekbones back (56 percent) and people turning to cosmetic procedures to remain competitive in the workforce (51 percent).

BOTOX (Allergan), along with Dysport (Galderma) and Xeomin (Merz), remains the most popular minimally invasive procedure for both women and men, followed by hyaluronic acid fillers. As for surgical trends, rhinoplasty (nose surgery) leads the way again, followed by blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) and facelifts. “Due to the improving economy and increased consumer awareness, coupled with a growing comfort level with the safety and predictability of cosmetic treatments, we expect the demand for facial cosmetic procedures to continue to expand,” says Dr. Williams.

The Next Big Thing

AAFPRS members agree that the biggest trend for the future of facial plastic surgery is more emphasis on early maintenance starting in the twenties and thirties to avoid larger procedures and delay the need for cosmetic surgery down the road. “With rapid advancements in non-surgical and minimally-invasive procedures, the face of aging as we know it is changing, says Dr. Williams. “Our patients understand that prevention is key to preserving a youthful look as they age. New developments like Kybella(Allergan), CoolSculpting Mini (Zeltiq) and faster lasers that have significantly less downtime will make aesthetic procedures increasingly accessible for consumers.”