Utah is known world-over as an outdoor paradise, with skiing, hiking and boating opportunities galore. We may be outdoorsy, but we also care about our looks a great deal. In 2007, Forbes claimed Salt Lake City was the vainest city in America based on the number of plastic surgeons per capita. According to Forbes, there are around 590 plastic surgeons in New York City, four per every 100,000 people. Salt Lake City has about 45 plastic surgeons, equaling six per 100,000 people.
Utahns may love to polish and preserve their appearance—but we are certainly not alone. Reality shows like Extreme Makeover, The Swan and the more recent Bridalplasty have made the occasional nip and tuck seem trivial.
Some executives and professionals are turning to outpatient cosmetic procedures to keep their appearance fresh and give them a boost of confidence when competing with younger workers.
“In a recession it’s even more critical to remain competitive. I’ve had people tell me they have an important interview and need to look better. I haven’t seen that in the past,” says Dr. Renato Saltz, immediate past president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) and owner of Saltz Plastic Surgery and Spa Vittoria.
“People want to look as good as they feel. Executives are highly competitive and want to compete with the up and coming, bringing a refreshed and youthful look to their industry,” says Dr. Steven Constantine of the Institute of Facial & Cosmetic Surgery.
Money may be tighter in a recession, but that doesn’t diminish people’s desire to look their best, says Saltz. And consumers now have more options than every before for quick outpatient procedures that are more cost effective than surgery.
Ten years ago, nonsurgical procedures such as fillers, Botox, laser resurfacing, chemical peels and microdermabrasion wouldn’t have been available at a plastic surgeon’s office, says Saltz. But today, opportunities for these quick procedures are everywhere, including dental spas.
The ASAPS began collecting data in 1997, and since then, surgical procedures have increased 67 percent, while nonsurgical procedures have increased a whopping 225 percent. “It’s so popular in this economic downturn because these procedures are less money and postpone surgery,” says Constantine.
“We’ve seen a huge increase in nonsurgical procedures for both women and men,” agrees Saltz. “Botox is number one followed by lasers and fillers.” Fillers are used to plump up the folds of smile lines or deep creases in the forehead.
Although options for non-surgical procedures are prevalent, new surgical procedures reduce recovery times for patients who go under the knife.
“In the mid-1980s, patients would have to hide for about four weeks until [they] recovered. Today, the vast majority are outpatient, allowing patients to go home and start recovering right away,” says Saltz. The top two surgical procedures for women are breast augmentation and liposuction, according to the ASAPS. Other popular procedures are eyelid surgeries, tummy tucks, body contouring, face lifts and brow lifts.
Although the majority of people turning to cosmetic procedures are women, doctors are seeing an increase in male patients. Utah’s numbers don’t compare to the national trends on the East or West Coast, but more and more men are open to plastic surgery than ever before. Saltz says it’s because men “aren’t afraid or embarrassed anymore. They recognize its value to make them more competitive.”
The top two surgical procedures for men are liposuction and rhinoplasty, or nose reconstruction. The number of procedures (surgical and nonsurgical) performed on men in 2009 was more than 900,000—an increase of 9 percent from 2008, according to statistics from the ASAPS.
The plastic surgery industry is one field that is constantly evolving with the latest technology. Stem cells may become a breakthrough in the industry, eliminating the need for fillers and silicone by using only a patient’s own adult stem cells. Research is ongoing to determine the long-term results of stem cells in plastic surgery, says Saltz. He recommends patients exercise caution as many doctors use it as a marketing tool. Anti-wrinkle tightening devices build collagen in tissues without a burning sensation. The first hand-held device was Thermage, with other devices in the works. Thermage uses radio frequency energy and a reverse thermal gradient to heat the deep layers of skin to tighten collagen, while at the same time protecting the skin’s surface with continuous cooling. For those struggling to get rid of body fat, a new option is available. New fat reduction devices are completely nonsurgical, melting away unwanted fat in hour-long sessions. The only device currently approved by the FDA is Zeltiq, or cool sculpting, which is a process that freezes fat. Other devices are in the process of gaining FDA approval. “This is a totally new and exciting option that wasn’t there before, offering patients a safe, nonsurgical way to lose weight,” says Saltz.