Scalpels may be shelved, but beauty is still in demand.
With everyone feeling the wallet crunch lately, it would be fair to assume that elective beauty procedures would be among the first "extras" to go. On some levels, that's true. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons says that surgical cosmetic procedures in 2008 were down nine percent nationwide from 2007. However, minimally invasive procedures—injectables like Botox and Restylane—are up five percent. "People continue to want to look good to be competitive, not just for the job market but for the social market," says Denver-based plastic surgeon Dr. John Grossman. "Whether they're going to plunk down the cash for a facelift is questionable, but they're more than happy to go with Botox."
Grossman and other Denver cosmetic surgeons are enjoying steady business for numerous recession-related reasons. "Look at what was popular during the Great Depression," says Dr. Gregory A. Buford. "Alcohol, cigarettes, and cosmetics. People wanted to feel and look better. Right now there's a similar effect. People are depressed with the economy, looking for a quick pick-me-up." Buford notes a shifting paradigm in which facial injectables are becoming a routine maintenance requirement, especially where employability is concerned. "People are getting pushed out of jobs, and attitudes about how a 40-year-old should look and act have completely changed," Buford says. "Look at how many forty- somethings are on Facebook."
Still, regular injectables can cost upward of $1,500 a year. Financing is limited these days, so some practices are incentivizing their procedures with discounts or special payment plans. "We make sure people end up as home runs right now," says Dr. Stacey Folk, who says her appointment book is full, "so they don't feel like they're throwing away money." Plus, with almost no recovery time, patients don't worry about jeopardizing their job security—or prospects.
"Sixty or 65 as a retirement age is disappearing," Grossman says, "so more people are lying about their ages. It's all part of the belief that younger people—or younger appearing people—are going to get in the door more."