Younger Patients Seeking Cosmetic Procedures
Recent data from two unrelated studies have revealed that the age of patients receiving cosmetic procedures is decreasing as the popularity of these procedures is increasing. Available for cosmetic use since 2002, Botox injections have long been marketed to women between the ages of 45 to 54. Not surprisingly, that marketing is working, with a full 60% of patients fall into the 45-54 age group. However, surprising new data has revealed that the facial plastic surgery category is undergoing a bit of a facelift of its own, as more women in their 40’s have begun to abandon the old standbys of Botox and fillers in favor of surgical procedures like facelifts. Even more surprising? Fillers and Botox sales aren’t suffering any losses due to this exodus because a new crop of women in their 20’s and 30’s are turning to injectables to stave off the aging process.
A recent 10-year study entitled "Nonsurgical Facial Rejuvenation Procedures in Patients Under 50 Prior to Undergoing Facelift: Habits, Costs, and Results," found that despite the widespread availability of fillers and Botox, patients are opting to have full facelifts at younger ages than ever before. One plastic surgeon who isn’t surprised by these findings is Dr. Ryan Mitchell of Henderson, NV. "Many of the patients in this particular study were already using Botox and fillers for years prior to their surgical procedures. What happened in many cases is that these patients were seeking greater results than they were getting with injectables alone." Explains Mitchell, "So, whereas an injectable filler might knock a few years off your appearance, a facelift can easily take off a decade or more."
So, why go through the expense and hassle of injectables in the first place? Mitchell believes there are several factors at play here. "First and foremost," he says, "many of these patients probably didn’t feel they needed a face lift when they began using injectables. Beyond that, a lot happened to normalize plastic surgery in the past few decades. The prices on some of these procedures have dropped, more surgical options have become available, more women are earning and controlling their own finances, plastic surgery has become more acceptable in society- it could be any one or all of these variables."
So what was stopping patients from just skipping ahead straight to the facelift? Well, for starters, they probably never felt as though they needed it. Botox, for example, has been long touted as a preventative measure for aging. While it won’t prevent wrinkles entirely, it can slow their arrival, and reduce their severity when they finally do appear. In fact, studies done on twins where one sibling used Botox and the other did not show dramatic differences between the treated and untreated twin- even after the effects of Botox had completely worn off. The treated twin still showed some signs of aging, but those wrinkles appeared softer and shallower than those on the untreated twin.
That could at least partly explain why a recent study by The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery found that more patients in their 20’s and early 30’s are now requesting injectable procedures. Already the number one minimally invasive cosmetic procedure (with fillers coming in second) the use of Botox increased by 6% among 20-29-year-olds in 2013. By 2015, almost 65% of respondents reported an increase in injectable use in patients in this age group. Mitchell has noticed an uptick in his own practice, and credits not just the preventative capabilities of early Botox use, but also the increase in the normalcy of the procedure, thanks to celebrities and social media. Says Mitchell "Whatever negative can be said about social media and selfies, they’re doing a great job helping millennials avoid some of the pratfalls of aging that previous generations had to deal with."