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About face: Trending cosmetic procedures

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, more than 15 million cosmetic procedures were performed in 2014, a number that’s grown by 111 percent since 2000. These include surgical procedures (like face lifts and liposuction) and non-surgical procedures (like Botox, chemical peels, fillers and laser hair removal).

Dr. David Sherris of the Clinic of Facial Plastic Surgery said much of the increase is because people are healthier and living longer. He attests that social media is a motivation for some, too. “Younger people want their ‘selfies’ to look better — it’s a studied phenomenon,” he said. “And older people are working longer; they want to look how they feel, which is better because they are exercising and eating better.”

We talked with a few Buffalo providers to see what’s new in the field of non-surgical procedures, which makes up the vast majority of cosmetic treatments today. While surgical procedures are actually down by 12 percent since 2000, non-surgical procedures have increased by 154 percent, as more people opt for less invasive solutions.

“There’s been an enormous push over the years for less invasive and more natural-appearing procedures,” said Sherris.

Dr. Todd B. Koch of Amherst Cosmetic Surgery Center/Le Medispa concurred, adding that many people don’t want either the downtime or evidence of surgery. “Women may not want anyone to know they’ve had something done,” he said. “With the new fillers, they can come in at lunchtime, and go back to work — they are happy with subtle improvements.”

Dr. P. Emmett Hurley of Oculofacial Plastic Surgery of WNY said that overall, the philosophy behind cosmetic procedures has also shifted. “We used to take away skin and fat; people were becoming ‘skeletonized.’ Now we’ve started filling in the face — a youthful face is a full face.”

With so much demand, the doctors say that new formulas and products are being presented all the time.

Sherry Hale, owner of Custom Beaute Spa, said permanent cosmetics are growing in demand right now. These procedures — which are called “paramedical” — can include “tattooing” on eyebrows, post-mastectomy nipples, and other aesthetic treatments, like covering acne scars. Hale, a licensed cosmetologist, specializes in these as well as cosmetic laser skin treatments.

“We probably do about 20 permanent eyebrow applications per week,” Hale said. “Many women have lost hair or have thin/thinning brows, and are penciling them in. As they age, it may get harder to get them straight; drawing them in every day is time-consuming. Eyebrows frame the face; they can have a big psychological effect.” The procedure involves, first, a numbing agent, and then the application of tiny, color-matched pigment strokes.

Dr. Sherris said he likes Sculptra Aesthetic, a newer facial injectable that helps correct facial wrinkles and folds by stimulating the body to produce collagen.

Hurley specializes in the area around the eye, and said that an always-popular surgery is blepharoplasty (surgical repair or reconstruction of the upper and/or lower eyelids). “Most of my work is medical,” he said. “We are sought out for lower lid blepharoplasty — it’s one of the bigger cosmetic procedures.” He also administers products like Dysport, Radiesse and Restylane to fill areas like the “marionette”/laugh lines, under-eye area, lips and upper cheeks.

Koch recently started using Kybella, one of the latest FDA-approved products, in the area under the chin.

“It permanently dissolves fat cells, so it’s indicated for double chins,” said Dr. Koch. “It works best when the skin is not too loose. Though there is still no downtime, the results are not immediate. Patients will see a little swelling or bruising; then experience a little hardening. After four to six weeks, they come back for a second treatment.”

Koch explains this treatment is best for smaller areas of the body. “It is costly — and the result is comparable to liposuction. So, while Kybella may eventually be approved for other uses, it may still be more cost-effective to use liposuction on larger areas.”

Of course, said Sherris, “Cosmetic surgical treatments are still ‘surgery’ — just like any other surgery, patients have to be healthy, get medical clearance, and follow instructions afterwards to maximize healing and results.”

But, said Hurley, “Cos-metic [procedures are] there to improve whatever you don’t like about how you look. It’s there to help with self-esteem.”

Added Hale, “I hear all the time that our procedures change lives for the better.”

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