The Changing Face of Plastic Surgery (Hint: It’s Younger than You May Think)

It’s not exactly an earth-shattering revelation but it’s always good to get confirmation from an authoritative source: According to a just-released survey from the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), more and more young adults and teens are opting for aesthetic procedures. In fact, a whopping 64% of AAFPRS members 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, says Edwin Williams III, AAFPRS president, 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. We are seeing a younger demographic than ever before seeking consultations and treatments with facial plastic surgeons all over the country.

Williams touches on what are arguably two of the major cultural themes driving the trend: celebrity imagery and social media. For example, the former, aka “the Kardashian Effect,” appears to be evolving from images of Kim’s butt to a focus on Kylie’s lips and Kendall’s nose, while the explosive growth of social media has meant everybody with a smartphone can shoot selfies and share the results with the world. The combination, notes Williams, has clearly spurred a flurry of interest in facial enhancements among the young.

But there may be more to it than simply “the Kardashian Effect” and “Selfie Mania.” For one thing, younger people increasingly view cosmetic procedures not as a means to reverse the passage of time but rather as a sort of preventive medicine, allowing them to preemptively maintain their youthful looks as they age. For another, many consider their efforts not as something to hide, but rather as an acceptable part of their healthcare regimen. And, finally, the continuing proliferation of minimally invasive procedures that cost less, require less downtime, and provide more subtle results has weakened the belief that “getting some work done” is a luxury limited to the old and rich.

As Williams says,

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.

Put it all together and it’s obvious that more than any other age group, younger patients are leading the way in destigmatizing aesthetic medicine — a trend that will almost certainly have repercussions that will continue to be felt when their inevitable aging does become a concern. After all, once they’ve dipped those toes and found the experience “refreshing,” it’s reasonable to believe they’ll be more favorably disposed to taking deeper plunges, such as breast augs, tummy tucks, and other surgeries, in their 30s, 40s, and beyond.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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