The rise of ‘selfies’ is having a huge impact on the facial plastic surgery industry according to a new study by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS). The annual poll studies a select group of the organisation’s 2700 members to uncover the latest trends in facial plastic surgery.

The study revealed that one in three facial plastic surgeons surveyed saw an increase in requests for procedures owing to patients being more self aware of looks in social media. In fact, 13% of AAFPRS members surveyed identified increased photo sharing and patients’ dissatisfaction with their own image on social media sites as a rising trend in practice. As a result, AAFPRS members surveyed noted a 10% increase in rhinoplasty in 2013 over 2012, as well as a 7% increase in hair transplants and a 6% increase in eyelid surgery.

‘Social platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and the iPhone app, which are solely image based, force patients to hold a microscope up to their own image and often look at it with a more self-critical eye than ever before,’ said Edward Farrior, MD, President of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

‘These images are often the first impressions young people put out there to prospective friends, romantic interests and employers, and our patients want to put their best face forward.’

Bullying is also a factor, but most surgeons surveyed report children and teens are undergoing plastic surgery as a result of being bullied (69%) rather than to prevent being bullied (31%).

Face of plastic surgery gets younger

There’s no denying that social media plays a particularly influential role in teen’s lives and self-esteem, so it’s no surprise that it’s also a driving force behind an increasingly youthful face of plastic surgery. In 2013, more than half of surveyed facial plastic surgeons (58%) saw an increase in cosmetic surgery or injectables in those under 30 years.

Both men and women are becoming increasingly aware of the ageing process, and of what can be done to turn back the clock. The AAFPRS survey found that 39% of members surveyed stated there is a rise in the demand for non-surgical cosmetic procedures to delay facial surgery.

Thirty-four percent of facial surgeons surveyed stated that women under 35 years are looking after their skin to prevent visible signs of ageing for longer, while 23% of facial surgeons surveyed stated that men under 35 years are seeking rhinoplasty, neck liposuction, chin implants, and acne scar reduction procedures.

‘The top five things most patients are most concerned with are results, cost, recovery, pain and scars,’ said Dr Farrior. ‘Whether driven by a desire to stay competitive in the workforce, remain attractive to their mate or simply to look as good as they feel, advances in non-invasive anti-ageing technologies are making it possible to delay the hands of time while retaining a natural outcome. As recovery times are reduced and results are more subtle, aesthetic procedures become a more viable maintenance option for young men and women.’

Almost three quarters of all procedures performed in 2013 were minimally invasive. Of these, BOTOX® Cosmetic, made up approximately half of all minimally-invasive procedures performed, followed by hyaluronic acid and peels.

Women versus men

Women continue to be the most likely candidates for facial plastic surgery and account for 81% of all surgical and non-surgical procedures in 2013. In fact, mothers are the most likely candidates, making up two thirds of all procedures on women last year.

Men are most concerned with wrinkles and having a full head of hair, while women value preserving their youthful appearance with a facelift and eye lift as well as having a well-proportioned, attractive nose.

Among male patients, the most popular procedures were BOTOX®, hyaluronic acid injections, hair transplants and rhinoplasty.

The most common cosmetic surgical procedures performed on women were facelifts and rhinoplasties (average of 37 procedures per surgeon each), ablative skin resurfacing (36 procedures) and blepharoplasty (34 procedures). In 2013, BOTOX® still reigned supreme as the most commonly performed non-surgical procedure among women (348 procedures), followed by hyaluronic acid injections (187 procedures), superficial peels/microdermabrasion (119 procedures), and non-ablative resurfacing (106 procedures).

Meanwhile, ‘rhinopopularity’ still dominates both sexes, with nose jobs being the most requested surgical procedure for both men and women under the age of 35 years (90% and 86%, respectively).

All in the family

Familial bonding through plastic surgery is on the rise, with the survey revealing an 8% increase in female family members undergoing procedures together. Husbands and wives are actually the most likely to opt for having cosmetic surgery together, with 31% of facial surgeons surveyed indicating an increase in married plastic surgery requests in 2013.

Women tend to be the driving force behind the decision, however, with 21% of male plastic surgery requests resulting from their significant other having undergone facial plastic surgery.

Trust your face to a facial plastic surgeon

Thanks to the wealth of information available to patients on the Internet, consumers become more and more savvy about choosing a surgeon each year. Forty-four percent of AAFPRS members surveyed noticed their patients being more educated about plastic surgery than ever before. Most patients got their information about plastic surgery online (60%), followed by referrals from friends (53%).

Consumers’ deepening knowledge of the field is indicated by how patients ask for procedures. Rather than asking for a feature by celebrity reference, as was a trend in year’s past, more than half of patients (59%) now ask for procedures by describing the area of concern (nasal hump, crow’s feet, sagging neck), while one quarter (26%) ask for the surgeon’s advice.

While the Internet is an excellent tool for researching surgeons and procedural information, the AAFPRS urges consumers to beware of ‘too good to be true’ discounted deals on procedures.

‘Our members nearly unanimously agree that prospective patients need to exercise caution when considering an online deal,’ said Dr Farrior. ‘To ensure the best results, you should have a consultation with your prospective physician to assess your candidacy and clearly discuss your goals. Always make sure to select a board-certified surgeon who specialises in plastic surgery of the face, head and neck.’