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Economy impacts patients' surgery choices

New York — Results of two recent surveys show how much the stagnant economy has affected patients’ decisions about elective facial plastic surgery — and shed light on doctors’ misperceptions about what patients want.

The two surveys — one administered to potential patients and one to members of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery — reveal that due to the recession, many patients are delaying facial plastic surgery and seeking less costly nonsurgical options. The surveys also reveal that physician knowledge of patient preferences differs widely from actual patient preferences in terms of treatment cost and durability, according to an ASAPS statement.

The great majority of patients prefer treatments with longer-lasting results over those with immediate effects, and most patients felt that duration of effect was more important than cost in selecting a medical anti-aging treatment, survey results show. Physicians, on the other hand, perceived patients as desiring immediate effects and valuing cost over longer-lasting results.

The ASAPS release quotes lead author T. Jonathan Kurkjian, M.D., of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, as saying, “That the current economy is affecting patients’ choices around facial rejuvenation isn’t so surprising. ... What is surprising, however, is the disconnect between physicians’ perceptions of patient preferences and actual patient preferences on costs and treatment longevity. Contrary to physician views, the survey results suggest that even for nonsurgical facial aesthetic options, treatment plans should focus more on longevity than on immediate impact.”

The full results of the two surveys are published in the September issue of Aesthetic Surgery Journal.

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