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The changing face of the cosmetic industry – Buenos Aires 

Puente de la Mujer by Calatrava, in Buenos Aires Puente de la Mujer by Calatrava, in Buenos Aires

The cosmetic industry is changing – and it’s being driven by patient attitude, this was one of the points made by oculoplastic surgeon, Jane Olver, when she addressed an international congress of ophthalmic and aesthetic surgeons held in Buenos Aires last month at the CAO 2013.

With her talk, entitled “Are Fillers Causing the Demise of the Facelift”, Jane drew her audience’s attention to the “massive shift” towards using fillers as a first choice for anti-ageing treatments.

The founder of Clinica London was also invited to contribute her expertise on tear duct surgery, watering eyes and DCR (surgery to improve tear drainage) during the Congress’ special “Oculoplastics Day”. She presented four talks including – for the first time – an analysis of the changing face of the cosmetic industry as fillers and less invasive treatments become increasingly popular.

“The trend”, delegates were told, was driven by patients’ attitudes … their desire for quick, repeatable, (and if necessary reversible) treatments which have few if any side effects and which produce a subtle/natural look. Especially, no one wanted to look as if they have had anything “done”.

Jane explained that she had found it exciting to research and prepare material for her new lecture.

“I was looking at data to come out of the UK and America on the number of surgeries done; and I was postulating that we were doing less face lifts and more fillers. however, after analysing the figures, I discovered we are actually doing more of everything… but, proportionally, very many more fillers.  Both areas are expanding.”

Jane explained that while it had been difficult to source exact figures showing the specific number of procedures in the UK (where much of the cosmetic procedures market is, as yet, unregulated), in overall size terms it is known to be booming. In 2008 it had an estimated worth of  £750 million; in 2010 this figure had increased to £2.3 billion; and is expected to rise to a staggering  £3.6 billion by 2015.

As in the US (where, last year the ratio of facelift to filler was 1 to 16), the trend was also clearly towards the increased use of “friendlier” treatments – those with fewer possible complications and quick recovery times.

“Although there has been a marked increase in the entire rejuvenation market and more face lifts are being performed; proportionally there are also far more procedures with fillers especially with the use of products such as Sculptra and also using the patient’s own fat”, said Jane.

 Her  presentation included the effects of ageing on the shape of the face : from the youthful  triangular shape with its upward base (and emphasis on eyes, check bones and temporal); to the older shape showing check descent and jowling – the triangle shape with downward base.

She spoke about popular techniques for improving skin quality, tackling wrinkles and methods for tightening it including Ultherapy which works on the skin’s dermis and stimulates the patient’s own collagen production.  The effects of these new procedures mimic surgery by, for instance, lifting tissue. Those attending the Buenos Aires congress also heard details about the use of the most popular fillers including Autologous fat transfer (using the patient’s own fat) and easily tolerated synthetic fillers such as Sculptra; and facial and periorbital rejuvenation using tightening surgery such as blepharoplasty and brow lifts.

Jane also drew her audience’s attention to the recently-published findings and recommendations of the Department of Health review headed by Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS Medical Director (link to article), explaining why UK data on cosmetic minimally invasive procedures is, at present, so sketchy.

The Keogh report indicated a 14% increase in facelifts 2012 – 2013.  However there had been a drop in other aesthetic surgical procedures – such as breast augmentation and reduction as well as liposuction, indicating that fewer younger people were choosing the surgical option.

Figures sourced by the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons show:

                                    Breast augmentation down 1.6%                                    Breast reduction down 8.2%                                    Rhinoplasty down 7.5%                                    Liposuction down 14.2 %                                    Abdominoplasty down 11.5%                                    Fat transfers up 13%                                    Browlifts  up 17%                                     Face and neck lifts up 14%

 Jane also revealed figures from the US – the list of top surgical and minimally invasive procedures last year where the clear number one position (with 6.1 million procedures – up 8% compared with 2011) was Botulinum Toxin Type A (Botox).

Soft tissue fillers were in second place followed by chemical peels and microdermabrasion.

Facelifts were also up in the US by 6% for the same period as were breast augmentations  and nose reshaping surgery. There were also increases in the numbers of other surgical procedures such as eyelids (up 4%).

Jane concluded that these findings indicate that – in the world of Beauty – surgery still has a role; but fillers are catching up.


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