How Millennials Are Changing The Face Of Aesthetic Medicine

From skincare to supplements and treatments to tweakments, there is an undeniable shift in the beauty and aesthetics industries that is largely led by millennials. Here, The AEDITION breaks down what it all means.
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Written by India Bottomley
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How Millennials Are Changing The Face Of Aesthetic MedicineLightField Studios/Shutterstock

With selfies, Instagram, filters, and, more recently, Zoom calls, millennials are likely the generation that has spent the most time looking at themselves in history. The hyper-awareness about appearances that is present for those between the ages of 25 and 35 has already started to change the shape of aesthetic medicine. In the past, cosmetic procedures have served as a way to reverse signs of aging. Today, those same treatments are being used preventatively by younger patients to tweak their appearance and thwart the aging process.

From skincare to supplements and treatments to tweakments, there is an undeniable shift in the beauty and wellness markets that is largely led by millennials’ new approach to the market. That new approach is often guided by both celebrity and social media influence So, how exactly are these habits changing the cosmetic procedure landscape? Here, we take a look at the latest industry figures and speak to millennial patients to find out how they feel their generation is changing the face of aesthetic medicine.

What’s Trending for the Face

1. Tweakments

Tweakments, or non-surgical cosmetic procedures, are one of the areas that millennials are investing in heavily. Tweakements include everything from medi-facials to injectables. Like so-called ‘prejuvenation’ procedures, they offer discrete results with little downtime. As the results of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery’s (AAFPRS) 2019 annual survey show, millennials seem to be particularly keen on skin resurfacing procedures like lasers and chemical peels. The number of skin treatments performed by respondents rose by 39 percent year over year between 2018 and 2019. While tweakments are minimally invasive, they are still professional procedures that should be performed by a board certified provider or similar expert.

2. Injectables

The popularity of injectables for those in their early twenties and thirties is one of the most notable shifts millennials are making in the aesthetics industry. According to the AAFPRS, the use of injectable neurotoxins (think: Botox®, Dysport®, Jeuveau®, and Xeomin®) and dermal fillers rose by 12 and 13 percent respectively last year. The trend comes as patients — particularly those in the millennial age bracket — are telling practitioners that looking good in selfies is a factor that’s leading them to have minimally invasive procedures (hello, ‘Instagram Face’).

3. Skincare

While in-office treatments and procedures are becoming a routine part of skincare, a thoughtful at-home skincare regimen is paramount to maintaining (and boosting!) results. The NPD Group reports that $5.9 billion was spent on skincare in 2019, with an increased interest in ‘natural’ beauty contributing to the growth. Natural brands accounted for 30 percent of the total skincare market, and sales grew by 14 percent over 2018.

Coupled with the explosion of the wellness industry (valued at $4.5 trillion in 2018, according to the Global Wellness Institute), millennials are more invested in the health of their skin and general wellbeing than previous generations. They are also increasingly interested in personalization. According to Practical Dermatology, millennial patients are interested in getting expert advice on which products to use and are investing in serums and creams that are customized specifically for their skin type and concerns.

What’s Trending for the Body

1. Body Contouring

When it comes to cosmetic procedures on their bodies, millennials are increasingly interested in non-surgical body contouring services like CoolSculpting® and EMSculpt® that reduce fat and tone muscles in areas that are difficult to target through diet and exercise alone. And with millennials now having children of their own, there is also a rise in millennial women turning to body contouring procedures to return to their prenatal bodies. So-called ‘mommy makeovers’ can involve both invasive and non-invasive procedures for the face and body.

2. Breast Implants

Like facelifts, breast augmentation has never truly gone out of style. And millennials are just as keen on the procedure as generations past — albeit with ever-evolving aesthetic preferences. Smaller, natural-looking breast implants are more popular than ever, and some patients are opting for hybrid procedures that combine implants with autologous fat transfers for a more customized result.

3. Wellness

As the first digitally native generation, millennials have more access to information than ever before and have seemingly embraced the concept of beauty from the inside out. From IV vitamin drips and supplements to light therapy and self care, millennials are willing to invest in their health. And, more often than not, they are willing to speak openly about it.

Patient Perspective

To better understand the millennial aesthetic market, we spoke to two women who have had cosmetic procedures about why they chose to seek treatment and the role they think their peers played in their decision-making process.

Jessica, 28, Long Beach, CA

Jessica, 28, started getting regular Botox® injections two years ago, and she opted for lip and cheek fillers earlier this year. As it turns out, social media played a part in determining her tweakment regimen.

The AEDITION: What procedures have you had and why did you choose them?

Jessica: So far, I have had Botox® and fillers. I decided to have them for a few reasons but mostly because I wanted to start before things get ‘bad.’ I’d like to be able to stick to minimally invasive procedures for as long as possible, so opting to start young felt like it made sense — in terms of the Botox® anyway. The fillers were more of a personal choice. I feel like most people our age are having minor procedures now. Part of me wanted to keep up, but also I just want to look at myself and feel good about the person who looks back at me.

The AEDITION: What role (if any) did social media play in your decision-making process?

Jessica: I think it would be hard to deny the fact that social media influences most of our choices these days. In some way or another, seeing ‘perfect’ faces every day must make us want to look better ourselves. I think — especially for younger people — it must be difficult to not get sucked into wanting to look like all the perfect-looking Instagram models. But I feel like [the millennial] generation is a little bit older, and, on the whole, we’re looking more for enhancement than a complete makeover.

The AEDITION: Do you feel like your peers have a different attitude about cosmetic procedures than your elders?

Jessica: I think we’re more open about it. I don’t necessarily think more people in this age bracket are having procedures, I just think that instead of going into hiding or ‘going skiing’ and actually having a procedure in that time off, we’re just being upfront about it. I think it’s nice, to be honest. At least when I see photos of people my age, I can safely assume they’ve had something done to them — whether it’s cosmetic procedures or filters and photoshop. It makes me feel better about myself.

Emilia, 30, Houston, TX

Emilia, 30, had a ‘mommy makeover’ after having her second child last year. She believes that social media has not only influenced her to take better care of herself but has also allowed her to feel less guilty about wanting to look her best.

The AEDITION: What procedures have you had and why did you choose them?

Emilia: I had a mommy makeover which for me included a breast augmentation and liposuction. I decided to have the surgery after having my second child because my body had changed a lot and I didn’t feel like myself anymore. I wanted to be able to be comfortable in my skin again. I consulted a couple of surgeons and settled on the treatment plan after looking at all my options.

The AEDITION: What role (if any) did social media play in your decision-making process?

Emilia: For me, social media has been a place to learn that it’s okay to want to better myself. If that means physically bettering myself through surgery, then that’s ok. It’s ok for us to honor our bodies in any way that we want to — without harming others, of course. I don’t see it so much as outside pressure. I did when I was younger, for sure, but I think as people get older they’re often able to refine their circle a bit more and lose some of those judgemental people from their online lives.

The AEDITION: Do you feel like your peers have a different attitude about cosmetic procedures than your elders?

Emilia: I know for a fact that we do because I speak to my mother’s friends about my surgeries on a semi-regular basis. They’re very intrigued about it all! One of her friends told me about someone she knew who had surgery a while after having her children, but she would never admit to having had anything done. In my experience, millennials are more open about surgeries they have had and are, on the whole, happy to admit that they had the procedure because they like looking nice — not for any deeper or more meaningful reason. If there is one, that’s great. But it’s not needed like it used to be.

The Takeaway

The numbers don’t lie. Millennials are increasingly interested in minimally invasive cosmetic procedures and at-home beauty and wellness practices that allow them to look and feel their best. Social media plays an undeniable role in dictating and driving these trends, which will no doubt continue to have an impact on millennials, gen Z, and beyond.

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INDIA BOTTOMLEYis a contributing writer for AEDIT.

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