The Russian market is hard to quantify accurately as there is a lack of official bodies to regulate the market and keep track of statistics. In 2010, Russia was ranked 14th in the worldwide aesthetic medicine market by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS), with 274583 total procedures every year (1st being USA, 2nd Brazil, and 3rd China).

The market is quickly expanding, but there is a striking shortage of qualified doctors; 515 plastic surgeons in Russia compared with nearly 6000 in the USA and 4300 Russian dermatologists.

Dermatology and aesthetic medicine have become separate worlds. Since 2011, cosmetic dermatology has become its own specialisation. An extra 6 months to 1 year of training is now necessary for a dermatologist to practice cosmetic medicine. Since 2011, 1148 physicians have obtained the certification. The fact that aesthetic medicine is becoming a specialisation of its own will presumably drive quality in this market, and therefore physicians are encouraging this major change.

As in many Western countries, aesthetic medicine is a highly attractive specialisation for both surgeons and physicians. Plastic surgeons in Russia can earn a lot of money — especially if they have some experience; salaries can go up to €50000 per month.

Questions of quality

The aesthetic medicine markets in both Russia and Ukraine are struggling to achieve high quality standards. There is a lack of strong regulatory bodies and worldwide cosmetic medicine manufacturers have been shy to enter these markets properly. There is a strong need for safer procedures as many products used in Russia do not have either the CE mark or FDA-approval. The level of training for physicians is also not high enough to ensure best practice.

The lack of standards in the industry has opened the doors to foreign plastic surgeons and cosmetic dermatologists. French physicians, but more recently Brazilian physicians are doing good business in Russia and fly in and out of the country, charging a fortune for their services, which can be delivered at home or in high-end salons.

Most procedures are carried out in salons which have a medical license; only 10% of treatments are carried out in proper clinics. There are approximately 300 clinics specialising in aesthetic medicine, although high-quality services are only provided in five or six private clinics in Moscow. There are 35000 salons in Russia and 15% of them (3500–4000) are concentrated in Moscow.

The market is centralised in the top five cities in Russia: Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, and Nizhny Novgorod represent the strongest growth in the aesthetic medicine market.

The top five surgical procedures in Russia are (in order) breast augmentation, blepharoplasty, lipoplasty, breast reduction and rhinoplasty. For non-surgical treatments, the top two are botulinum toxin followed by hyaluronic acid injections.

The prices for interventions in Russia are lower than standard prices applied in France, England and USA; a blepharoplasty in a top private clinic in Moscow costs between €1000 and €2000 all-inclusive (compared with $2724 in the USA for surgeon fees only).