Non-surgical cosmetic treatments are gaining in popularity in Australia. A recent IBIS Study shows that while the cosmetic surgery market is still bigger than the non-surgical market ($860 million to $560 million), the non-surgical market grew an additional 25 percent last year, while the surgery market only grew 1.4 per cent.

The liquid face-lift, non-surgical rhinoplasty, anti-wrinkle-injections, fillers and numerous other treatments are gaining momentum globally as well, pushing surgery to the back seat.

We asked surgeons and cosmetic physicians why this trend is growing. Some doctors we spoke to blamed the global financial crisis, as non-surgical enhancements are usually less expensive than surgery. Others believe that the cosmetic market has expanded to include new groups of people able to afford cosmetic procedures.

We asked Dr Jonathon M. Sykes, President Elect of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) what he sees happening in the USA.  According to Dr Sykes, he believes as the cosmetic enhancement market expands, so do the marketing budgets of companies in the non-surgical enhancement business.

“A surgeon with annual revenue of $1.5 million will spend about $50,000 on marketing”, says Dr Sykes. “Product and device companies in the USA have revenues in the billions of dollars and marketing budgets of millions. They can afford to market their products heavily to the public. People begin to feel that they maybe don’t need a facelift, but can rely on fillers and lasers to get by.”

He acknowledges that affordability and factors like downtime also play a role in consumer decisions. But market expansion is a key factor:

“The market is expanding everywhere around the world. Not only is it no longer taboo to have a cosmetic procedure, it is common to talk about what treatments or procedures you’ve had done. People openly discuss what they’ve had and who they went to see.” Dr Sykes thinks this is “fantastic, because it means that surgeons can’t hide. We need to be accountable, especially as we rely so heavily on referrals.”

Another factor in market expansion is the growing rank of nurse injectors opening their doors, increasing the number of treatment providers. Dr Sykes stresses how important it is to ensure that these service providers are properly trained and accredited; and that they are not simply using a doctor’s name in order to purchase product. It is also crucial that product and device companies do proper due diligence on their buyers before supplying products.

We asked Dr Joseph Hkeik, director of All Saints Cosmedical Clinic and an Australian Cosmetic Physician what he thought of the growing popularity of injectables.

“The technology behind anti-wrinkle-injections and fillers has advanced a great deal in recent years”.

“75% of people having cosmetic enhancement treatments and procedures are mixing injectables into their routine, and these people can’t all be influenced purely by marketing. They have injectables because they really work”.

Dr Hkeik understands that some faces do need additional volume, especially as a result of the ageing process. “All we need to do is look at the ageing face, it does lose volume over time, just look at a photo of yourself 20 years ago to see proof of this”.

Dr Hkeik agrees that injectables aren’t for everyone; neither is surgery. He believes that one of the most important things when deciding to have any treatment or procedure is in finding a practitioner who has an aesthetic sense. “Going to someone who doesn’t may mean they overfill your face or give you an overdone look”.

Be cautious when following trends

When asked about the current trends in the US, what is gaining popularity and what is new, Dr Sykes had this to say:

“The media love to ask me about trends so they can report on what’s new and what people are having done. But at the bottom line, trends are usually created by the media because they sound sexy or because someone famous has had something done.”

Dr Sykes believes it is dangerous to follow trends blindly, “when you go to your local practitioner, do you ask for someone who’s new in the industry to give you a facelift? No! You want someone who’s been around for a while and who knows what they’re doing. “

“The same thing goes for ‘trends’. If it’s brand new, it probably hasn’t been tried and tested as much as it should be to get the very best results.”

Costhetics notes that in the US the FDA and in Australia the TGA provides a minimum level of protection for consumers for medical treatments. New drugs, scheduled products (such as injectables), devices (e.g. lasers) and anything inserted in the body (e.g. breast implants) has to be proven to be safe. However, this protection does not extend to surgical techniques or the quality and experience of the doctor performing the treatment.

New ways of diagnosing is the new real trend

In Dr Sykes opinion the most important thing is diagnosis. “This is where the real ‘trends’ and ‘what’s new’ gets exciting. We used to have only one way of diagnosing and a cookie cutter way of treating. There is so much new software and treatments available today that enables surgeons to give patients more options and understand their problems and issues better.”

Patients are also looking for subtle enhancements that appear natural, rather than the ‘done’ look. They want to feel and look happy with their cosmetic enhancements. The goal of aesthetic cosmetic enhancement today is the creation of balance and proportion in all facial features.

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