In 2018, there were nearly a quarter million more cosmetic procedures than the previous year, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Nearly 18 million people in the United States received plastic surgery or minimally-invasive cosmetic procedures. The national upward trend in body-shaping procedures is credited mostly to a spike in non-invasive fat reduction, breast augmentations and liposuction.

Out of nearly 18 million people, 15.9 million of those people received a minimally-invasive procedure. Dr. Pablo Prichard, chief of plastic surgery at John C. Lincoln Hospital in Phoenix, has some insight on these trends and how they are reflected on the Phoenix population.

Pablo Prichard, MD, is the chief of plastic surgery at John C. Lincoln Hospital in Phoenix.

AZ Big Media: In your opinion, why is there an increase in plastic surgery?

Pablo Prichard: The increase in plastic surgery is actually very peculiar because actual surgical procedures are down. They’re down about 5 percent since 2000, however they’re up slightly since 2017. So not a big change in surgical procedures. The reason why I think they’re down is mostly related to the huge increase in minimally-invasive procedures — which are up by 228 percent, a huge increase. That is more than offsetting the decrease of actual surgical procedures.

ABM: What is the relationship between minimally-invasive procedures and plastic surgery?

PP: Surgical procedures are things like breast augmentation; you do that in an operating room setting. Breast lifts, tummy tucks, liposuction, face lifts, forehead lifts, all those things are considered surgical procedures because usually you have an actual surgery under anesthesia. Non-surgical procedures, cosmetic, can be like Cool Sculpts. You can be totally awake, and it doesn’t hurt. It’s a suction cup on the area you’re trying to sculpt. That’s why it’s called minimally-invasive because there’s either no incision or minimal incision associated with the procedure. Those are the things that are hugely up mostly because people don’t want to have the down time from the surgical procedures.

ABM: How do the national numbers compare to Phoenix?

PP: Some of the national numbers coincide with my view of the Phoenix numbers. For instance, breast augmentation is up 48 percent since 2000 – that definitely coincides with the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. Breast lifts are up about 108 percent since 2000 – that also coincides. What I don’t see that coincide, things like rhinoplasty, or nose shaping surgery, are actually down 45 percent since 2000, which is interesting. I still see a huge amount of surgical rhinoplasty in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area.

Other things like facelifts and that sort of thing, I have seen it drop a bit. It’s because of these much better, really improved minimally-invasive non-surgical techniques. Such as for face lifting, there’s a technique called Ulthera. It’s a radio frequency technique that causes a thermal injury on purpose, and the body reacts by tightening that area. That acts as a minimally-invasive facelift. Another technique is called FaceTite; that’s a more aggressive radio frequency tightening that you can also do awake, and that has taken the place of some of those face lifts as well. I actually had a couple people who were teetering between deciding to do a face lift versus doing FaceTite. They went with FaceTite, and they were very happy with it.

ABM: Although these minimally-invasive procedures are less extensive than a full-on surgical procedure, are they less of an emotional undertaking for the participants?

PP: They are less of an emotional undertaking because their time investment in the procedure and their financial investment in the procedure is less. If there is someone going through a huge face lift procedure, they’re basically out of commission for multiple weeks. They stay at home because they’re swollen.They’re out of work for a couple weeks. And, it’s a very expensive procedure.

However by doing something like FaceTite, after a couple of days, you’re looking okay and you can go back to work, so you’re back into society very quickly. The expense between a FaceTite procedure or a face lift is very different. Probably less than half the price of the face lift.

ABM: Is there an average demographic that tend to get plastic surgery or a minimally-invasive procedure that alters their appearance to some degree?

PP: That’s something that’s probably a different trend in Phoenix and Scottsdale than the national average. In Phoenix and Scottsdale, both men and women have procedures. However, most tend to be done on women, but men are definitely increasing in volume as well. In both groups, I’m seeing younger and younger people do more preventative-type procedures – things like Botox or they’re doing things like chemical peels or lasers in order to keep their skin thicker.

The longer they keep their skin thicker, the more youthful they’re going to look in the long-term, 10, 20, 30 years down the road. So, they’re trying to do preventative maintenance early on, and so I’m seeing people in their 20s and 30s very regularly now; whereas, back 10 or 15 years ago, it was more like late 30s or 40s when people were starting to do these types of non-invasive procedures.