For our selfie-obsessed culture, the desire to look perfectly filtered — in photos and IRL — has never been stronger. In fact, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the number of minimally invasive cosmetic procedures has grown nearly 200 percent since 2000, with no indication of slowing down. Advances in technology and research are on track with consumer demand, and the Food and Drug Administration is set to approve at least three new, cutting-edge cosmetic procedures in 2019. Below, we ask renowned plastic surgeons and cosmetic dermatologists to weigh in on the trends and procedures they think will be the most popular this year to zap, inject, and restore our bodies.
Injectables Are More Accessible Than Ever
“It’s really the era of minimally invasive medical aesthetic procedures,” says Lara Devgan, a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City. “I think that is not only because of low downtime, lower cost, and lower invasiveness but also because there are lower stigma and lower barrier to entry.”
Injectables, lasers, and skin resurfacing can be quick, lunchtime procedures, often with immediately visible effects and limited downtime, qualities that contribute to their inclusivity as well as confidentiality. Injectables, like Botox and fillers, have become so mainstream that, according to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS)’s annual survey, four-fifths of all treatments performed by facial plastic surgeons in 2018 were cosmetic, non-surgical procedures, thanks to the subtle but noticeable results and relatively reasonable cost.
Cosmetic Treatments Will Be More Inclusive
The quick bounce back into a normal routine post-procedure has caught the attention of those who are reluctant to admit they had a procedure or don’t want to deal with the downtime. Devgan estimates 15 percent of her patients are men, with that number increasing annually. She attributes the rise to the resurgence of classically masculine features and the decline of the social stigma attached to elected cosmetic procedures.
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“A lot of the procedures that I’m doing enhance features to look more masculine,” says Devgan. “Men have historically been interested in the lower third of the face, meaning the chin, neck, and jawline.”
Radio frequency technology, like FaceTite, to address neck and jawline sagging and heft is a procedure New York City-based, board-certified plastic surgeon Adam Kolker, anticipates skyrocketing in 2019, especially among men. “It’s a real revolution in what we’ve been doing to date,” he says. Depending on the patient, it can be done “in conjunction with other procedures, like liposuction or microneedling.
Welcome to the World of the “Tweak-Ment”
Disproportionate breast enhancements, overfilled lips, and exaggerated cosmetic procedures are all trends that are on their way out. Now a successful plastic surgery or cosmetic procedure should no longer be obvious. Patients increasingly want to maintain their general face structure, inherited family traits, and just generally want to look like themselves, but with a few refined tweaks.
“We are definitely seeing the rise of ‘tweak-ment.’ It’s definitely not like 10 years ago when people were coming in with the cover of a magazine wanting to look more like a supermodel that had nothing to do with their lives,” says Devgan. “Now, people want to look more like their own filtered photos or a Photoshop version of themselves. And recently, people are super into the tiny little micro-optimizations that make them feel a little bit more confident but are not completely obvious.”
Board-certified plastic surgeon David Shafer has noticed that his patients are in favor of a more “natural” look. “I think breast augmentation will continue to be popular, but with smaller, more naturally shaped, or positioned implants. Fat-grafting will continue to be popular into next year, but more for contouring and fine-tuning, rather than just plumping.”
Niche Treatments Are on the Rise
Small, hyper-specific procedures to resolve minor but irksome facial and body quirks are increasing in popularity. These “micro-optimizations,” as categorized by Devgan, include the unorthodox use of filler in locations other than the traditional cheekbone, like the earlobe to tighten a stretched piercing from heavy earrings, or the bridge of the nose during a noninvasive rhinoplasty.
“Another procedure I’ve been seeing a lot recently addresses the space between your nose and your lip, that little Cupid’s bow,” says Shafer. “It elongates over time and can age the lip, so we do a small incision right under the nose and lift up the lip. It’s becoming very popular; it’s a small surgical procedure, but it makes a nice difference without having to plump the lips with filler.”
Body Contouring Is Expected to Soar
“EmSculpt has just become available in the U.S., and it is the first and only noninvasive muscle and body fat-shaping procedure,” says Dendy Engelman, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. The handheld tool uses magnetic fields to activate muscle contractions in the body to break down fat and build muscle.
Body fat responds to the metabolic reaction of the contractions by breaking down, essentially tricking your body into thinking it’s working out. “It’s a painless procedure that has been tested in five clinical studies with measurable results,” she says. “I’m excited to see the results it will deliver in 2019.”
The End of Medical Tourism
Even on a good day, international medical tourism, particularly for plastic surgery, has been on shaky ground. What was perhaps once attractive as a low-cost alternative to pricey elective procedures now has patients reconsidering its value, monetarily and otherwise.
“A good amount of patients I see are consult patients with people who went down to South America or other places for plastic surgery and then end up having complications, or needing a complete revision, that I have to treat for them here in New York,” says Shafer. “I think we’ll see a kind of reverse medical tourism, so patients will not be going to Third World countries for cheaper plastic surgery, but coming to places like New York instead.”
Preventative Treatments Will Be Big
If 2018 was the year plastic surgery and breast augmentation stepped out of the shadows and into mainstream conversation, 2019 will be the year of the tweak-ment, small corrections to the face and body while remaining true to your natural facial and physical characteristics. And according to experts, a larger number of patients will be undergoing treatments at a younger age as preventative treatment. In fact, the AAFPRS’s annual survey found that 72 percent of facial plastic surgeons saw an increase in cosmetic surgery or injectables in patients under 30.
“Patients are also getting regular treatments starting at a younger age that are preventing invasive procedures in the long run,” says Engelman. “I think of it as maintenance or upkeep for skin instead of ignoring concerns until drastic measures are needed.”