Advances in the way cosmetic surgery is performed and a variety of options to refresh and rejuvenate have made cosmetic surgery more accessible to the general public. "Newer, less invasive surgical procedures that achieve good results, and quick treatments such as Botox mean less down time, and the average age of patients is declining," says Dr. Lyle S. Leipziger, chief of the division of plastic surgery at North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center.
Nearly 6.9 million surgical and nonsurgical cosmetic procedures were performed in the United States in 2002, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). Compared to 2001, surgical procedures increased one percent to 1.6 million. The tally of nonsurgical procedures, such as Botox and collagen injections, stood at 5.3 million last year. Since 1997, the overall number of cosmetic procedures has increased 228%, according to ASAPS.
The greatest number of procedures (44%) was performed on people ages 35 to 50. Liposuction was the most popular surgery among both women and men, and Botox injection the number one nonsurgical treatment.
Dr. Leipziger says many health-conscious patients in their thirties and forties have made Botox and other nonsurgical wrinkle-fighting treatments part of their beauty regimen, along with exercise and a healthy diet. One such patient, who sees Dr. Leipziger for Botox treatment every four to six months, explained, "I want to look young, and Botox makes you feel great." The 39-year-old patient, who has three children, said the injections work wonders in eradicating frown lines that make her look angry. With the numbing cream Dr. Leipziger applies prior to treatment, she said the injection feels like a little pinch.
The trend to have cosmetic procedures at a younger age is being carried over to surgical procedures, as well. "People in their thirties and forties are coming in not only for quick procedures such as Botox, but for forehead lifts and eyelid surgery," says Dr. Leipziger. The first signs of aging are often visible in the eye area, making people look tired, worried or even angry. While Botox can smooth out forehead furrows and lines around the eyes, it is not an eyelift in a bottle.
Patients in their early to late forties are also having mini-facelifts, with fewer and smaller incisions. "Cosmetic surgery can dramatically improve one's appearance and boost self-confidence. The goal is to make the patient look better, more youthful and more refreshed. It should not make someone look unnatural or like a different person," says Dr. Leipziger.
Many women -- and men -- in their thirties and forties opt for cosmetic surgery because they want to retain their competitive edge in an increasingly challenging work place or because they're re-entering the job market. Others are resuming an active social life after a divorce. Many patients say the improvement in their looks, boost in self-esteem and brighter outlook on life are worth the cost.
Dr. Leipziger advises anyone considering plastic surgery to make sure the physician is Board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Getting recommendations from friends, finding a plastic surgeon who takes the time to listen carefully and answer questions, and checking credentials can help ensure safety and achieve desired results. Anyone who would like more information is invited to call Dr. Leipziger's office: 516-465-8787.