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Aesthetic Medicine – Then & Now

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Aesthetic medicine has evolved extensively throughout history. People have always been keen to improve their attractiveness and to enhance their beauty, but up until only a few decades ago, the process of having an aesthetic procedure done was limited to plastic surgeons and specialists.

Aesthetic Medicine” used to be a term that was basically unheard of, and to those who were privy to the ideas around the practice were usually few and far between. It began in Europe with a basic ideology around beauty and a few simple skincare techniques and treatments. Today it has advanced extensively, with aesthetic medicine clinic locations in most cities, each offering different types of treatments, such as laser technology, fillers, injectable, spa treatments and even minimally invasive cosmetic surgeries and dentistry.

The Patient as a Consumer

Aesthetic medicine has a fairly short history when compared to conventional medicine, especially when we look at the new values of the aesthetic patient. The difference between the aesthetic medicine patient and the conventional medicine patient is that the aesthetic patient is actually more of a consumer.

Aesthetic patients, or “consumers” are relatively healthy and are seeking out treatments to improve the way they physically look and to combat the signs of aging. Conventional patients visit a doctor based on the need to improve their overall health.

Aesthetic medicine has a direct relationship with today’s consumer’s need for social acceptance and psychological well-being. Basically, social norms today attach a lot of merit to mental health and how to achieve a stress-free lifestyle.

Aesthetic medicine can actually help people achieve this kind of lifestyle by fixing a physical ailment, such as excess facial hair on a woman, which is impacting her confidence and affecting her life in a negative manner. By employing an aesthetic doctor to remove this hair, you may be drastically improving the patient’s happiness and quality of life.

Let’s compare today’s aesthetic patient, or “consumer”, to the aesthetic patients from a few decades ago. The previous patient was often attending the Botox treatment or procedure incognito, so to give the idea that their beauty is “au natural”, or not needing any help or work whatsoever. Basically, it was not prudent to admit that you were having treatments, and it was a bonus to contribute to the illusion that your beauty was automatic and effortless at all times of the day.

The Modern Aesthetic Patient

Today’s patient is totally different, if not more confident and informed. They are educated about their treatment options, willing to share details, and even may host a “treatment party” as a social event to have treatments such as Botox® or fillers performed (though this is not recommended).

This demand for aesthetic procedures to improve one’s appearance are not just the result of a more confident and informed consumer. Strong influences from print, television and social media have created a culture of beauty that people want to achieve.

It is now more socially acceptable today than it was even 10 years ago to admit to having a bit of Botox® or an injectable, especially with today’s high rating and desire for attractive appearances. Whatever the reason, whether it be status, self-esteem or perhaps trying to obtain a new job, there are many customers out there that are willing and able to have these aesthetic treatments, and at any cost.

A New Level of Availability

As mentioned, these factors may all be thanks to a new culture of beauty and the acceptance of the desire to get the treatments, but none as influential as the availability of these treatments. It is extremely easy and non-invasive for today’s consumers to have access to these procedures. Don’t forget that not even 10 years ago saw aesthetic procedures being performed exclusively by dermatologists and plastic surgeons, which limited the availability and the financial freedom to do so.

In today’s market, aesthetic procedures are minimally invasive and are much more available: nurse practitioners, specialists and even estheticians are able to perform many of the procedures in more conventional and attainable settings. This is made possible thanks to new technology that has made procedures more simple, easier to use, and more accessible to the doctor and patient. Even further, many of these procedures that once might have required a hospital operating room are now non-invasive and office-based procedures.

Finally, we have the cost factor. Aesthetic treatments, while deemed medical, is not a necessity, so therefore they cost patients money that is not usually covered by insurance. This has led to many doctors electing to open up independently-run practices where they can invite these “patient consumers”.

Often, these consumers are willing and able to pay the price that is associated with the treatments, and as many treatments, such as hair removal and Botox®, require subsequent visits, the practitioner is almost 100% guaranteed a returning customer.

Aesthetic Medicine: Today vs. 30 years ago

The evolution of aesthetic medicine over the last few decades is quite extensive. Before, if you wanted to alter or improve your appearance and didn’t want to rely on promises from the latest over the counter skin cream, you would resort to plastic surgery. This would involve hospitalization, anesthetic, recovery time and an expensive bill.

Today, you can improve and change your look without having to go under the knife, and you need not look far to find an aesthetic medicine practice that will help you do so. The possibilities and procedures are plentiful and will treat a variety of issues, including acne, wrinkles, excess hair, and even cellulite. Today, aesthetic medicine is a booming business that is catering to a more informed, self-assured and willing consumer that knows there are non-invasive procedures that can greatly improve their look.

It all started with Botox®, which, upon its invention, was being used to treat a variety of medical conditions including but not limited to excessive sweating and chronic migraine headaches. Once it was noted that Botox® could temporarily paralyze muscles without adverse reactions, and thus smooth out superficial wrinkles, it became widely popular with those who wanted to “freshen up” those worry lines on their forehead. Medical spas started offering basic Botox® treatments during regular business hours, often with only a few days’ notices for an appointment and for a minimal cost compared to surgery.

It didn’t stop there. Before we knew it, treatments and procedures were being developed everywhere that promised a fresher, newer you, without the invasive side effects of plastic surgery. Today, there are upwards of 20 different types of treatments that can be done with minimal invasiveness. Besides Botox®, here are 5 of the most popular types of aesthetic medicine treatments:

Photofacials

A Photofacial is an advanced skin rejuvenation technique that uses lasers, lights or photodynamic therapy to treat skin conditions such as photoaging, wrinkles, spots, texture issues such as acne, skin conditions caused by sun damage. During the procedure, gentle pulses of intense, optimized lights are directed at the skin and are selectively absorbed by the treated area. The heat of the light delivered by the machine destroys the damaged blood vessels and pigments and effectively works to reduce wrinkles, sunspots, scarring and stretch marks, among other conditions.

Dermal Fillers

Dermal fillers, such as Restylane and Juvederm, are wrinkle smoothers that are injected into the skin. Their compound, which consists of hyaluronic acids, collagens, or biosynthetic polymers, increases the volume in the skin, which has a smoothing effect on wrinkles. Results normally show after a couple of treatments and last for months. As most of these ingredients will eventually be absorbed by the body, so treatments need to be repeated regularly.

Chemical Peels

This is a treatment that will improve and smooth the texture of the skin by using a chemical solution, such as an AHA, BHA or retinoic acid that causes the dead skin to slough off. The regenerated skin is usually smoother and less wrinkled than the old skin. Chemical Peels can achieve great results on sun-damaged skin as well.

Body Contouring and Cellulite Treatment

You can help to smooth out the stubborn orange peel look of cellulite with a few different clinical treatments. “Endermologie” treatments knead the skin with a rolling suction device, which boosts circulation and helps to stimulate collagen production. Six sessions are often needed to see results. You can also be treated with lasers and radio-frequency devices, both of which use massage and suction as well. These relatively painless treatments help shrink fat cells via heat, and then your liver processes the fat.

Laser Hair Removal

Laser hair removal is great for those ladies and gentlemen that no longer want the chore of shaving areas such as legs, chest, back, the bikini and underarm. Although it isn’t permanent, it can have lasting results after only three treatments and requires very little maintenance. It works by way of a laser pulse heating up the follicle and killing it while not damaging any surrounding tissue.

 

Botox is a trademark of Allergan Inc.

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