Positive attitudes about the acceptability of cosmetic procedures are growing, and the technologies, products and expertise in the aesthetic enhancement field are dramatically expanding.
These factors are helping to fuel significant growth in the number of people having non-surgical procedures to address the signs of aging and enhance facial skin and features.
According to a March 2017 report from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), spending on plastic surgery and non-surgical procedures reached a record high of $15-billion in 2016 – 11 per cent higher than in 2015 and 36 per cent higher than in 2012.
Although plastic surgery spending continues to increase, more rapid growth is occurring for non-surgical procedures – particularly for treatments in which plastic surgeons and dermatologists inject dermal fillers and/or toxins into different layers of the face. The ASAPS statistics show facial treatments with hyaluronic acid fillers, for example, rose 16 per cent between 2015 and 2016.
Although comparable data is not recorded in Canada, experts say Canadian trends are similar, with demand growing for safe and effective beautifying procedures with minimal recovery time.
Dr. Andreas Nikolis is a veteran of aesthetic plastic surgery who has witnessed comparable changes in his Westmount, Quebec, practice. More women and men are seeking facial treatments with fillers and toxins, and the age range of his patients is broadening.
“More people recognize what we can do with fillers to create a natural, rested appearance. There used to be a stigma around these treatments because people were worried about looking unnatural,” he says.
More injectors are taking advanced courses on how to achieve optimal aesthetic outcomes across different skin types and age groups, which is increasing people’s confidence about taking the step, says Nikolis, who spends a significant amount of his time speaking and training on these topics, nationally and internationally.
Nikolis is involved in multiple studies evaluating newer indications and product lines, and he says that companies developing wrinkle fillers are creating more specialized products that allow physicians to produce more natural and individually tailored results.
“In the past, we had to use the same product on a 70-year-old patient with thin skin and major volume loss, and a 55-year-old with thicker skin and less volume loss,” says Nikolis. “Skin care companies have expanded their products so that physicians have options to customize treatment to address specific patient needs,” he says.
People treated with filler injections can increasingly get the results that used to be available only with facelift surgery, Nikolis explains.
A cultural shift has also occurred – the idea of cosmetic procedures to help you feel younger and more attractive has become widely accepted when principles of aesthetic beauty and facial harmony are applied.
Dermatology company Galderma Canada released the results of a national survey about “Grace in Aging” in February, in which it asked Canadians about their attitudes towards facial aging and the steps they would consider to address its signs.
Seventy-one per cent of respondents said they support the personal choice to use a cosmetic facial injection or say they don’t judge other people’s decisions to do so. When asked whether they believed graceful aging is “both physical and emotional,” 94 per cent of women and 90 per cent of men said “yes.”
Many factors go into choosing the best treatment, including the kinds of changes the patient desires, says Nikolis. For some, the goal is to “relax” the face by injecting a neuromodulator (toxin), which paralyzes some muscles to smooth out wrinkles.
Some people are looking for a lighter skin treatment or to “refresh” their appearance, while others who are showing signs of aging often seek to “restore” skin quality and lost volume for a more youthful look. Those seeking enhancements are often younger patients in the 30 to 45 age range, he says. “To enhance, we may provide a nicer contour of the jaw line or fuller lips in women, and a more chiselled appearance in men.”
Nikolis believes the popularity of fillers and toxins will continue to grow, with the development of products and techniques that deliver even more precision, predictability and longer-lasting results.
“Performing these facial procedures is art and science married together,” he says. “We can truly create a highly specific treatment plan for each patient – the sky’s the limit when we’re given the right tools and training.”
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