New Survey Reveals Top Facial Plastic Surgery Trends of 2021

According to a new survey from the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS)—the world’s largest association of facial plastic surgeons—2021 saw a high demand for face and neck aesthetic procedures as patients started trickling back into the office to meet with physicians face-to-face.

“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,” says the report. To get a break down of the numbers, we spoke with AFPRS president and San Francisco facial plastic surgeon Corey S. Maas, MD, who says he is currently making room for more operating rooms in his office due to the major uptick in appointments.

As Zoom became even more embedded into our daily work lives, AAFPRS reports that “there was an enormous increase in the trend for people seeking procedures to look better on screen.” According to the survey, 79 percent of facial plastic surgeons say their patients are seeking procedures that will improve their appearance over video. In 2020, only 16 percent of doctors reported that patients were motivated by video conferencing. Social media has also had a say in the facial procedure spike, with 77 percent of AAFPRS members reporting that their patients have a desire to look better in selfies.

While requests for procedures that enhance the face over video have skyrocketed across all age groups, Dr. Maas says he’s seen younger patients requesting procedures more now than ever. “Botox Cosmetic used to be the entry treatment for people in their late-twenties or early-thirties. Now, those who are just out of college are coming in and getting lip injections or lip enhancements. Because so many people on social media are getting lip procedures done, that is influencing others to follow, which is partially why we’ve seen this uptick.”

Skin-Smoothers and Lifts Are All the Rage

Since 2020, the demand for laser treatments has shot up by 10 percent, which indicates patients are opting for noninvasive treatments to achieve even-toned skin. “Also popular in the noninvasive category is radio-frequency microneedling,” says Dr. Maas. “This is a less-expensive way of doing the same thing that lasers do, which is a big motivator for patients.”

“Lip lifts, a new category for the 2021 survey, were performed by seven out of 10 doctors,” says the survey. This shows that patients are veering away from over-filled lips and heading in a more natural direction. “At least 70 percent of AAFPRS members performed lip lifts in 2021,” the survey continues. “This is because people want a natural look—they want to appear lightly enhanced but they do not want to look fake,” says Dr. Maas.

Demand for more invasive procedures like facelifts, necklifts and brow lifts are also significantly up since 2020. “A factor that’s important here is that people were staying home and working, which gave them time to recover and not show their faces,” says Dr. Maas. “Also, people were wearing masks, so they could cover up a lot of your face in public.”

Doctors Were Chosen Carefully

If we learned anything from this survey, it’s that qualifications matter. “This year’s survey indicates that patients’ number one concern is finding the right doctor they can trust (36 percent), by worries about an unnatural result (30 percent),” according to the report. “For most procedures, effective communication between surgeon and patient is the number-one key to a successful outcome,” adds Dr. Maas. “This includes a mutually agreed upon, reasonable expectation for improvement and what is realistically possible for individual patients and their goals.”

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