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Relevance and Beauty


According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the world's largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons, minimally invasive cosmetic procedures have increased nearly 200 percent since 2000. Data taken from the 2017 National Clearinghouse of Plastic Surgery states that among the 15.7 million minimally invasive cosmetic procedures performed in 2017, the top five were:

• Botulinum Toxin Type A (Botox®, Xeomen®, Dysport®, Evolus®) - (7.23 million procedures, up 2 percent from 2016)

• Soft Tissue Fillers (2.69 million procedures, up 3 percent from 2016)

• Chemical Peel (1.37 million procedures, up 1 percent since 2016)

• Laser Hair Removal (1.1 million procedures, down 2 percent from 2016)

• Microdermabrasion (740,287 procedures, down 4 percent from 2016)

As a board-certified plastic surgeon, this increase in non-surgical treatment interests me. I find joy in getting to know what truly motivates my patients to pursue a consultation, and since 2007, I have seen a shift in both the desire and the demographic of men and women that enter my office.

What I have witnessed is an increasing need to stay relevant. It is common knowledge that youth, or at least the appearance of youth, is held in high regard in Western culture. Evidence of this is present in most every form of cultural production (art, fashion, advertising, etc.). One obvious side-effect of this youth-centric value system is that as we age, we become increasingly overlooked or under-valued. It is my opinion that the need to stay relevant, rather than an unhealthy preoccupation with vanity, has driven this increase in cosmetic procedures. Simply stated: The desire to be seen and valued is driving this cosmetic phenomenon.

The Baby-Boomer generation is participating in the U.S. workforce at increasingly higher rates than ever before in America’s history. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 40 percent of people ages 55 and older were working or actively looking for work in 2014. The U.S Bureau of Labor and Statistics calls this the Labor Force Participation Rate.

It is worth emphasizing that the Baby-Boomer generation is a sizable group—born between 1946 and 1964. Given our advances in education and medicine, this group is living longer than previous generations. With this life increase is the necessity to remain in the workforce to financially support their ever-increasing lifespan. BLS data also shows that many individuals in this labor group are planning to both work and collect social security when eligible.

In their article, "Older workers: Labor force trends and career options," by Mitra Toossi and Elka Torpey, it reveals that people ages 65 to 74 and 75 and older are expected to have the fastest increase in the labor force through 2024. This is noteworthy given that the participation rates for most other age demographics are not projected to change much through 2024.

I have listened to countless stories from my over-55-year-old patients about being passed over for promotions, being under-employed or simply shut out of a contention for a job for which they were qualified. These stories leave one with suspicions of age-related discrimination. I’ve even heard stories from older patients, often women in their 60s and 70s, not having their health-care concerns addressed adequately—or at all. Not surprisingly, these patients believe it was because of their age and current life station.

Given the societal pressures that are facing this large and aging generation, it is not surprising there is a substantial increase in noninvasive modalities being employed to maintain a youthful relevance. The goal of most of my patients is to continue to recognize themselves in the mirror as they age; to continue to be heard when they speak; and to be considered present and relevant—to not be invisible.

Information from this article can be found at: Mitra Toossi and Elka Torpey, "Older Workers: Labor force trends and career options," Career Outlook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017; and on the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ website,

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