What’s trending in cosmetic surgery?
What surgical procedures have become more popular over the past year?
Without a doubt, body contouring via fat transfer continues to increase in popularity. This procedure aims to enhance the shape of the breasts, hips, buttocks, calves and many other parts of the body. Of these options, fat transfer to the hips and buttocks, sometimes called Brazilian buttock lift (BBL), has gained widespread popularity over the last few years. It is currently the procedure with the biggest growth in popularity in plastic surgery, with statistics showing an increase of about 20% year-over-year, according to the American and the International Societies of plastic surgery.
How have surgical trends changed in recent years?
Recently, there have been two noticeable trends. The first is in the number of surgical and non-surgical procedures. Last year, despite the impact of Covid-19, there was an increase of about 7% in the total number of cosmetic procedures worldwide. This was mostly due to an increase in the number of people seeking non-surgical cosmetic interventions, such as non-surgical skin tightening, contouring and wrinkle treatments. However, the number of surgical procedures has been steadily reducing for the last few years.
The second trend in body surgery seems to be moving away from prosthetic implants, such as silicone, probably due to bad publicity. At Creo Clinic, we have seen an increasing number of patients requesting the use of their own fat tissue to augment the volume of their breasts or buttocks via fat transfer. This has two advantages: firstly, getting rid of the fat from the unwanted areas and, secondly, utilising that tissue to fill or enlarge parts of the body, avoiding the use of prosthetic material. More and more patients are requesting their silicone implants to be removed and replaced with their own fat tissue.
What trends do you predict to see next?
I predict that the popularity of gluteal lipofilling (fat transfer to hips and buttocks) is going to increase exponentially over the next five years and will overtake other surgical procedures, such as breast augmentation, in about 10 years or less. Body contouring and gluteal lipofilling are very effective and powerful means to reshape the midriff into an aesthetically pleasing natural hourglass figure. Women, and some men, continue to seek this procedure despite the bad publicity and reputation linked to BBLs, including its risks and the stereotypical images of very large unnatural buttocks depicted by some celebrities. This representation has, unfortunately, given this procedure a bad reputation. The reality is that we have moved away from BBL to safer procedures such as the BEST-F technique, where the fat is injected superficially over the muscle. The vast majority of our patients at Creo Clinic seek a natural hourglass figure with a natural traditional waist-to-hip ratio rather than an exaggerated large size.
Which procedures are increasing or decreasing in popularity?
At Creo Clinic, we noticed a reduction in patients requesting breast augmentation with silicone implants, as more and more of them prefer the use of their own fat tissue to enlarge the breasts via fat transfer from unwanted areas of the body. At the same time, we noticed an increase in the number of some specialised new procedures such as High-Definition Liposuction, pectoral muscle enhancement with fat or implants, and calf augmentation with custom-made implants. This may be due to the patient becoming aware of these niche procedures. However, this may also reflect the nature of our clinic, which focuses on specialist and tailored breast and body surgery. In the general population, without a doubt, the biggest trend is the increase in the gluteal lipofilling I mentioned earlier.
What do you think this reflects — where do these trends come from?
I like the fact that the vast majority of patients these days are savvy, knowledgeable, and often well-informed by the time they come to the consultation. The shift towards the use of fat transfer, instead of implants is often driven by the patient’s choice, having researched the advantages and disadvantages of implants vs fat transfer.
Pop culture is having a significant influence, no doubt about that. For example, gluteal lipofilling or BBL has become more popular and known, following the images of and rumours about some celebrities, such as Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, Virginia Gallardo and others. There is some evidence to suggest that what the public sees as “beautiful” is changing, for example, the “ideal” waist-to-hip ratio seems to have shifted toward a more exaggerated one, possibly due to the influence of celebrities and social media. However, this comes with no surprise, as we know that the notion of beauty changes with time and between cultures. The spread of information and social media has allowed our societies to embrace evolving new concepts of beauty.
Have you experienced any racialised elements of these surgeries?
Yes, there seem to be “racialised” elements in the popularity of some surgical procedures; however, I see this reflecting a cultural, rather than “racial” diversity. In other words, the variation in what is considered beautiful may vary based on our cultural beliefs and background (where we grow up, our families, peers and friends), not based on race alone. Some women of Afro-Caribbean and Hispanic background seem to value and desire large buttocks, as well as fullness on the upper thighs and hips. That’s why traditionally we’ve seen a larger number of BBL patients from these ethnic groups. However, we’ve been seeing an increase in the popularity of this procedure among Caucasians and East Asians, which I believe reflects our modern global society's cultural transmission, led by social media.