Exploring Facelifts, Ozempic, Gen Z and AI’s Role in 2023 Observed Trends

The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), the world’s largest association of facial plastic and reconstructive surgeons, released its 2023 member survey outcomes. With life finally returning to pre-pandemic levels of activity, facial plastic surgery and non-invasive treatments continue to boom in demand. Facelifts are back, and with the advancement of technology, facial ‘tweakments’ are as popular as ever because of accessibility and appeal to all ages.

Fresh-faced facelifts

Modern techniques like subcutaneous and deep plane facelifts are breathing new life into this age-old enhancement and drawing a younger crowd to the procedure. Since 2019, a striking 90% or more of AAFPRS surgeons have performed facelifts each year. On average, members performed 48 facelifts or partial facelifts in 2023, demonstrating a 60% increase since 2017. Over the past seven years, the number of facelifts performed has steadily increased year over year. The survey also noted a directional increase among patients ages 35–55, suggesting that facelift patients are getting younger.

77% of AAFPRS members believe there will be greater emphasis on early maintenance and prevention starting in the 20s and 30s.

‘At some point in the ageing process and with a certain degree of laxity and sagging, you will get diminishing returns on your non-invasive procedures,’ shares Sherard A. Tatum, President of the AAFPRS. ‘At this point, it’s best to opt for a facelift or partial facelift to get the desired effect. Facelifts also soared in popularity this year due to the “Ozempic Effect” where patients lost a large amount of weight in a condensed period of time, resulting in sagging skin.’

Consistent with years past, the top three surgical procedures were rhinoplasty (performed by 83% of surgeons), blepharoplasties (49%), facelifts and partial facelifts (48%) across all genders.

Gen Z has entered the chat

From the ‘Sephora Tween’ phenomenon to TikTok’s wildly popular ‘Get Ready with Me’ videos, Gen Z (ages 11–26) is coming into their own purchasing power and prioritising aesthetics. This year’s survey supports this, showing that 77% of AAFPRS members believe there will be a greater emphasis on earlier maintenance and prevention starting in the twenties and thirties to forestall signs of ageing.

‘This generation is growing up with a greater awareness of what is possible when it comes to aesthetic treatments thanks to the normalisation online,’ says Dr. Tatum. ‘Rapid advances in non-invasive treatments and technologies allow younger patients entry into aesthetics with very little pain and downtime, making it more attractive to a larger patient pool.’

The new data points to this, with 83% of the total number of procedures performed in 2023 being minimally invasive. The remaining 17% were surgical. Of minimally invasive procedures, the three most common treatments were neurotoxins, fillers, and topical treatments (micro-needling and chemical peels). Rhinoplasty remains the single most requested surgery among patients under 34 years old.

Manual enhancements

It is still no surprise that women continue to reign when it comes to undergoing facial plastic surgery. However, this year’s results reveal that 44% of AAFPRS surgeons expect more men to have treatments and surgeries in the coming years. AAFPRS members also noted that they are seeing more men age under 35 seeking surgical and non-surgical enhancements.

‘As minimally invasive technology continues to advance, this opens the door for more men to get discreet, quick-to-heal cosmetic treatments,’ shares Dr. Tatum. ‘From non-invasive neck lifts to needle-free enhancements, there are more options than ever for men to keep looking as vital and youthful as they feel. The rise of minimally invasive options seems to be slowly closing the gender gap when it comes to facial plastic surgery.’

Looking ahead

‘Our field is growing at such a fast pace. It’s an exciting time to be in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery,’ states Dr. Tatum. ‘Over the next year, we will certainly see the rise of AI in aesthetic medicine as surgeons integrate this technology to better analyse facial features, guide both their cosmetic and reconstructive surgery work, and predict outcomes of interventions over time. Things like 3D imaging allow us to simulate potential outcomes for more precise treatment planning, injectable placement and more. Custom computer-generated implants are available to better enhance or reconstruct facial contour problems.’

‘We may also see a reduction in the demand for injectables since a top concern for patients is appearing “overdone”,’ shares Tatum. According to 24% of survey respondents, looking unnatural is their patients’ biggest fear when considering a facial procedure. ‘I predict we’ll see a greater focus on more natural outcomes and graceful ageing. Some outward appearance of maturity can be taken as a sign of experience and wisdom. Although I am speaking as a boomer.’