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More Patients "Liking" Aesthetic Procedures

As growing numbers of patients acknowledge the influence of social media on their decisions to undergo aesthetic procedures, facial plastic surgeons are seeing, an "increased sophistication of the public," according to Robert Kellman, MD, President of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS). In response to results of the annual poll of 752 AAFPRS board-certified facial plastic surgeon members, he says increasingly savvy patients are welcome in the aesthetic space, and that their attitudes demonstrate a growing overall acceptance of aesthetic procedures.

According to the survey, facial plastic surgeons have seen a 31% increase in requests for surgery as a result of social media photo sharing. The social media influence, along with findings that suggest a phenomenon of female bonding through aesthetic procedures, suggests that "acceptance of procedures is growing," Dr. Kellman says. AAFPRS members report a 16% increase in mother-daughter procedures, and a 12% increase in sister-sister procedures. Importantly, Dr. Kellman stresses, "Patients' willingness to discuss procedures and be open about having them doesn't mean that someone wants to look 'done'."

Surgeons must continue to be sensitive to patients' needs, applying their skill and expertise to provide results that are "as natural as possible." At the same time, Dr. Kellman, stresses, it is important to identify a patient's motivation for seeking aesthetic enhancement. Peer or family support are beneficial, he says, while any sort of pressure clearly is not. "We do not want to have patients seek surgery based on someone else's perception of them," he maintains. Patients who are themselves interested in procedures and are then referred by someone they know tend to be more comfortable about undergoing procedures.

That "patients are becoming more sophisticated, more knowledgeable," is reflected in the way they talk to their physicians, as well, Dr. Kellman says. Survey results show that there was a 31% increase in requests for surgery as a result of social media photo sharing. Furthermore, respondents noted that only a small minority of patients (7%) ask for celebrity procedures, while a majority (53%) ask for a procedure by area of concern, and more than a quarter (28%) asking for procedures by name.

The desire for natural looking outcomes may contribute to an overall increase in the use of combination procedures by facial plastic surgeons, Dr. Kellman offers, noting that growth in combinations was not directly assessed by the current data. The latest figures do, however, show a resurgence of surgical procedures, an increase in procedures among men, and a growth in demand among members of ethnic minorities. Look for more on these trends in the next edition of Modern Aesthetics.