Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen incredible advancements in technology and a cultural shift in attitudes about cosmetic treatments.
Now the industry is more transparent than ever, breakthroughs keep coming, and the conversation is becoming increasingly public. As we celebrate our 10-year anniversary, we asked three RealSelf doctors where they see cosmetic treatments going over the next decade. Here are the five top trends that emerged.
We’ll get even smarter about fat
As new technologies evolve, patients can expect even better techniques for zapping fat.
“When the first device came out, the Zerona, I introduced it on the Rachael Ray Show and mentioned that non-invasive fat removal is the ‘holy grail’ of plastic surgery,” Dr. Anthony Youn said. “Even though the Zerona didn’t end up becoming what I hoped it might be, others have taken the place as reliable reducers of fat, such as CoolSculpting and SculpSure. As these devices improve, and the amount of fat they destroy increases, I predict that the numbers of people undergoing liposuction will decline sharply.”
We continue to see more interest in this topic as well. Consumers have visited RealSelf more than 5 million times in 2016 to learn about non-surgical, fat-reduction procedures like CoolSculpting, Kybella, and Smart Lipo.
Using a person’s own body fat to sculpt and augment other areas also continues to be a rising trend. “It could be for the curve of the buttocks, to reshape the breasts, or just using fat to help plump sunken, aged areas with a facelift,” Dr. Jennifer Walden said. “There are so many uses for our own fat in the field of plastic surgery.”
More men will join in
Historically, plastic surgery patients have predominantly been women, but more men are joining the fray. A recent USA Today story highlighted the growing number of men entering plastic surgeons’ offices seeking tummy tucks, breast reduction, and eye lifts, and non-surgical treatments like Botox and Kybella. “The demographics continue to change,” Dr. Renato Saltz said. “More men are seeking aesthetic treatments,” and he believes that shift will only continue in the coming years.
Dr. Walden, whose practice treats about 95% women, also expects to see more men, but for a different reason. “I have begun to offer sophisticated hair-restoration treatments, and that opens the door for the male patient to ask about other types of surgical and non-surgical procedures,” she said.
Greater acceptance is on the way
Our doctors agree that the stigma around aesthetic procedures is lifting, and they expect it to become even more mainstream over the next decade.
“Plastic surgery is going to continue to grow and be more visible,” Dr. Youn said. “More celebrities will admit that they use cosmetic procedures to look as good as they do, more doctors will spread the word via social and nontraditional media, and cable and network TV will continue to feature programs that include plastic surgery.”
Don’t underestimate the power of people. Dr. Walden says that with more information online, consumers will be “even savvier and more educated on what procedures plastic surgeons offer in both the noninvasive and the surgical realm.”
More gadgets will do more work
Ask anyone in the tech world what the next big thing will be, and virtual or augmented reality is likely at the top of their lists. It’s no different in plastic surgery. New tools will empower doctors and patients to see and do more than ever before.
“Gone are the days when all we had were before-and-after photos,” Dr. Youn said. “Now we are doing 3D imaging on computer screens, and a select few, via MirrorMe3D, are even creating physical models using 3D printers to predict post-surgical results. I expect that eventually plastic surgeons will have these printers in their offices.”
Surgery will get safer, while non-surgical will step up
Our doctors agree on the continued need for surgery, though that will also change.
“Certain surgeries, primarily skin removal procedures like tummy tucks and breast lifts, will never go away,” Dr. Youn said. “It’s just not possible to get rid of extra skin without physically cutting it out.”
However, Youn predicts that surgical processes will adopt a more holistic approach, including better pre- and post-op diets, anesthesia, and non-narcotic pain meds. Dr. Saltz agrees that safer, better methods are on the way and even expects the “expansion of non-surgicals to eventually match the results of some of the open surgical procedures.”
Which brings us to the booming market of minimally invasive treatments. Based on the over $5 billion* spent on minimally invasive treatments in the U.S. during 2015, RealSelf estimates that consumers will spend more than $10 billion on these procedures for the first time in 2020.
Fueling that boom will likely be more non-surgical treatments added to the mix. Dr. Saltz said that advancements in non-surgical skin tightening, fat reduction, hair transplants, and cellulite treatments are all “very promising.” Dr. Youn also anticipates a rise in minimally invasive treatments for rhinoplasty, as well as breast and chin augmentations.
“It’s growing, no question,” he said. “The future of plastic surgery is not having surgery.”
*2015 ASAPS report.
See our picks for the 10 defining moments of the past decade in cosmetic surgery.