The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), the world’s largest association of facial plastic surgeons, today released its 2021 member survey outcomes. Despite lingering pandemic concerns, 2021 saw catapulting demand for facial plastic surgery and aesthetic procedures as in-person events and face-to-face socialization resumed.
After almost two years of canceled plans, minimal makeup and over analyzing their reflections on ZOOM, men and women are ready to regain confidence and shake off the sense of languishing dread that has dominated the collective consciousness throughout the pandemic. This sentiment is apparent in the newly released AAFPRS survey of aesthetic trends and motivators.
According to AAFPRS members, the total number of surgical and non-surgical facial plastic surgery treatments is up dramatically. An estimated 1.4 million surgical and non-surgical procedures have been done in the past year, with plastic surgeons performing an average of 600 more procedures than they did in 2020, a 40 percent increase.
Furthermore, 83 percent of AAFPRS surgeons saw an increase in bookings over the course of the last year (up from 70 percent from 2020). Surgical procedures (rhinoplasty, facelift, blepharoplasty) are the most common procedures as part of this upsurge, but the demand for non-surgical treatments grew as well.
Explaining the Surgical Surge
Those AAFPRS members who experienced an increase in appointments almost unanimously (92 percent) indicate it is because patients have had more time and flexibility to recover from treatments since many are still working from home or now have a hybrid workplace option. The enduring “ZOOM Effect” has factored in as well, according to 89 percent of respondents, as has the money-saving benefits of staying-in have resulted in more disposable income.
With the daunting prospect of re-entering society in ‘real life,’ instead of from behind a filtered Instagram lens and with a year to pick apart appearance on video conferences, 2021 found patients more motivated than ever to indulge in the ‘tweakments’ for which they had been longing. A staggering 83 percent of AAFPRS members say 75 percent or more of their work is facial plastic surgery, up from 75 percent of surgeons reporting on the trend in 2020.
AAFPRS President Corey S. Maas, MD shares, “after lockdowns ended and vaccinations rolled out, our patients who had been postponing reconstructive work, upkeep, maintenance or surgery were eager to schedule treatments to help them feel refreshed, confident and ready to take on work, events, playdates - all of those things that were previously paused. Plus, with more time still being spent at home, there was less concern about the recovery time for surgical treatments.”
Social Media Motivators
With the pandemic’s breakout stars ZOOM and TikTok firmly embedded in daily culture, the 2021 AAFPRS survey detailed an enormous increase in the trend for people seeking procedures to look better on screen. To illustrate, 79 percent of facial plastic surgeons identify patients seeking procedures for an improved appearance on video conferencing as a rising trend, compared to only 16 percent the previous year.
“The use of video for business, social media and self-promotion is now so ingrained in society that it provides an easy and ever-present lens for self-scrutiny,” shares Dr. Maas. “We’ve slowly moved from static image filters to ‘ZOOM dysmorphia’ being the major patient motivator as the pressures of a virtual lifestyle continue to impact the way we view ourselves and the way we present to peers.”
The now culturally ingrained desire to look better in selfies (aka ‘selfie awareness’ as coined by the AAFPRS) continues to trend up, with 77 percent of members, reporting this as a driving factor for patients - up 35 percent overall since the AAFPRS first identified this trend in 2016. As it became apparent that mask-wearing was here to stay, more and more patients are also asking for eyelid procedures to look less tired, as noted by 73 percent of surgeons (up 17 percent from 2020).
The Year of Lifts & Lasers
Lip lifts, a new category for the 2021 survey, were performed by seven out of 10 doctors. This points to growing filler fatigue as patients veer away from the pillowy, overfilled ‘reality TV lips’ to options that are longer-lasting and more natural-looking. At least 70 percent of AAFPRS members performed lip lifts in 2021. In the procedure, the distance between the upper lip and nose is shortened, giving lips a fuller, more youthful appearance.
Demand for facelifts, neck lifts and brow lifts are also significantly up from previous years, further supporting the AAFPRS’ theory that more schedule flexibility, ability for downtime and masking, all likely have an influence on patient pandemic behaviors.
The demand for laser treatments is also up over 10 percent from 2021 vs 2020, indicating that naturally healthy, clear and even-toned skin remains a patient priority, as the ways in which, and how often, we wear makeup has evolved.
By the Numbers… Closing the Gender Gap
The millennial takeover continues. Patients age 56 or older represent a lower percentage of overall procedures in 2021, perhaps due to concerns about COVID-19. The most common surgical procedure among patients under age 34 is rhinoplasty, which remains consistent with previous years.
Women continue to be the most likely patients for facial plastic surgery, but the industry is slowly becoming more balanced. Blepharoplasty and neurotoxins are trending towards more balance between genders, with a lower percentage of surgeons indicating these procedures are performed on “mostly females.”
The top procedures performed most often on women in 2021 include neurotoxins (63 percent), fillers (57 percent), and rhinoplasty (62 percent). Hair transplantation is the only procedure for which men far surpass women, and is gaining popularity. In 2021, surgeons were almost five times more likely to indicate that hair transplantation was a top procedure for males, compared to 2020. The top procedures for male patients are rhinoplasty (79 percent), neurotoxins (58 percent) and blepharoplasty (42 percent).
Trust Your Face to a Facial Plastic Surgeon
This year’s survey indicates that patients' number one concern is finding the right doctor they can trust (36 percent), followed by worries about an unnatural result (30 percent).
“Finding the right, most qualified, physician to perform any procedure should ALWAYS be a patient’s first priority,” says Steve Jurich, CEO and Executive Vice President of the AAFPRS. “Make sure the physician is qualified, experienced and board-certified in the procedure you want. When considering a facial plastic surgery procedure, the AAFPRS always recommends selecting a surgeon specifically trained in procedures of the face, head, and neck.”
Dr. Maas adds, “For most procedures, effective communication between surgeon and patient is the number one key to a successful outcome. This includes a mutually agreed-upon, reasonable expectation for improvement and what is realistically possible for individual patients and their goals.”
Research providers and treatment information via trusted online sources (www.aafprs.org) before scheduling your consultations and having a facial plastic procedure.
The 2021 AAFPRS annual member survey was conducted in December 2021 by ACUPOLL Precision Research, Inc. through an online survey from a select group of the organization’s 2,200 members.
ABOUT THE AAFPRS:
The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is the world’s largest specialty association for facial plastic surgery. It represents more than 2,200 facial plastic and reconstructive surgeons throughout the world. The AAFPRS is a National Medical Specialty Society of the American Medical Association (AMA), and holds an official seat in both the AMA House of Delegates and the American College of Surgeons board of governors. AAFPRS members are board certified surgeons whose focus is surgery of the face, head, and neck (inclusive of Rhinoplasty and Facial Rejuvenation). More information at www.aafprs.org.