From an increase in Botox to the rise of Emsculpt, the hot new body-contouring treatment that helps grow muscle and boost the booty, 2018 saw a continued rise in consumer interest for minimally invasive cosmetic treatments.

In fact, consumer interest in minimally invasive treatments on RealSelf has outpaced interest in surgical treatment options since 2015.

Botox topped the list as the most-researched minimally invasive treatment in 2018 for the second year running. For those seeking longer-lasting results, several surgical options are still quite popular: Breast augmentation continues to be the top surgical treatment researched on RealSelf.

These findings and more are part of the RealSelf 2018 Aesthetics Trend Report, compiled by analyzing behavior trends of U.S. consumers researching on RealSelf during 2018.

“Breast augmentation and Botox have been around for a very long time, and both treatments have a high level of consumer awareness,” said Dr. Lara Devgan, RealSelf Chief Medical Officer and board-certified plastic surgeon. “Furthermore, there has been a recent emphasis on tinier doses of Botox at younger ages, meaning that it looks more natural than in any previous era. This, along with social-sharing trends, has reduced stigma and made it more mainstream.”

Minimally invasive movers and shakers

Interest in Botox has climbed 11 percent since 2017. Overall, it’s now the No. 3 most-researched treatment for women and No. 10 for men on the site.

“The stigma of having ‘had’ a procedure is just not there anymore with Botox,” says Dr. David Shafer, a New York City plastic surgeon. “Botox is considered standard maintenance for anyone concerned about their appearance and is mainstream.”

All injectables performed well in 2018, with Botox (No. 1), Juvederm (No. 3), and Restylane (No. 9) among the top 10 most-researched minimally invasive treatments. One injectable treatment saw a significant increase in interest: Bellafill, the long-lasting collagen-based filler approved for smile lines and acne scars, had the highest growth overall with a 44 percent increase, compared to 2017.

Emsculpt, the innovative new treatment that stimulates muscle contractions to burn fat and build muscle, emerged this year and has drawn intense interest among consumers. The treatment has been especially attractive for those seeking to sculpt their abs or boost their butts without surgery.

“Emsculpt is a game changer,” says Dr. Andrew Campbell, a facial plastic surgeon in Mequon, Wisconsin. “It’s the first device in the aesthetic field to ever target muscle directly.”

Microneedling also saw a significant rise in interest, jumping to the No. 8 spot from No. 11 in 2017. In fact, several treatments that improve skin conditions also showed increased interest, from treating acne to fading scars and discoloration. These skin rejuvenation treatments take five spots on the top 10 list of highest growth in interest in minimally invasive treatments. Halo Laser, a fractional laser that repairs sun damage, discoloration and large pores, is No. 2 with 39 percent growth over 2017. Tried-and-true acne fighters Retin-A and Accutane are also among the top 10 minimally invasive treatments with the highest growth in interest.

Sculptra Aesthetic had the No. 3 fastest-growing interest among minimally invasive treatments, increasing 31 percent over 2017. Plastic surgeons, including Dr. Devgan and Dr. Shafer, are finding that this treatment works well for non-surgical enhancing of the buttocks. “I have seen what I consider a real trend toward off-label use of Sculptra, principally because of its use in buttock augmentation,” says Dr. Devgan.

Surgical procedures still in high demand

Breast augmentation is still the most-researched surgical treatment, and women on RealSelf showed particular interest in a new implant. Motiva is made of silicone gel and comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and profiles to allow for greater customization. It also has an optional micro-transponder that lets a medical professional read the serial number from the outside the body. Motiva takes the top spot on our list of hot emerging treatments in 2018.

Breast-related surgeries, including lifts and reduction, continued to trend well in 2018. Breast reduction came in at No. 7 and breast lifts at No. 10.

Women seeking to restore their bodies post-baby continued to research mommy makeovers, a combination of procedures that often includes a breast augmentation or breast lift, liposuction, and a tummy tuck. Mommy makeovers landed at No. 8.

While Dr. Shafer likes many of the new minimally invasive treatments, he says that sometimes there’s still no replacement for surgery. “As a board-certified plastic surgeon, I know the capability of what true liposuction can achieve, and it cannot be matched by non-invasive treatments,” he says.

Women vs. men and other notable trends

Interestingly, women and men are both looking into the power of a tummy tuck, a surgery that removes excess skin and fat from the abdomen. A popular procedure for women after childbirth, tummy tuck ranks No. 2 for women, but interest among men is also quite high, coming in at No. 3.

Hair growth continues to be a hot category, with PRP for hair loss landing the No. 4 spot for highest interest growth among minimally invasive treatments at 20 percent. Hair loss treatment FUE Hair Transplant is No. 10, up 11 percent over 2017.

Thread lifts topped the list of surgical procedures with the highest interest growth, up 42 percent year-over-year. The procedure works by inserting dissolvable sutures under the skin to lift the cheeks, jowls, eyebrows, and lip corners.

Other significant moves in the surgical category with the highest growth in interest include buccal fat removal, a procedure that removes the fat pads in the cheeks to create a more contoured jawline and cheekbones, which grew 40 percent in the past year, and ear lobe surgery, which repairs stretched-out lobes. It came in at No. 3, with a 19 percent increase in interest.

Dental treatments also drew plenty of interest in 2018. Teeth-straightening Invisalign was the most-researched dental treatment, with dental crowns, braces, dental implants, and porcelain veneers rounding out the top five respectively.

What’s next?

Doctors on RealSelf don’t see the minimally invasive trend slowing down in 2019. In fact, better technologies and products, along with more open dialogue about minimally invasive procedures on social media and among celebrities, will only increase adoption.

“While we continue to see high interest for surgical procedures, advancements in technology have expanded minimally invasive treatment options and helped to make aesthetics more accessible to women and men of all ages,” says Dr. Devgan. “The growth in minimally invasive underscores people’s desires for smaller, less-invasive treatments that deliver results with little downtime, and I believe we will see demand continue to rise in 2019.”