Facing the Economy

Patients seek out less-costly facial treatments, but prefer treatments with longer-lasting results over immediate effects

New York, NY (September 26, 2011)– How do leaner economic times affect patients’ aesthetic procedure choices? Two recent surveys—one administered to potential patients and one to physician members of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS)—reveal that many patients are delaying facial plastic surgery and instead seeking out less-costly nonsurgical options due to the impact of the current recession. Surprisingly, the surveys also revealed that physician knowledge of patient preferences differs widely from actual patient preference in terms of treatment cost and longevity. The vast majority of patients indicated they would prefer treatments with longer-lasting results over immediate effects, and most felt that duration of effect was more important than cost in selecting a medical anti-aging treatment.  In contrast, physicians perceived patients as desiring immediate effects and valuing cost over longer-lasting results. The full results of the two surveys are published in the article “Impact of the Current Economy on Facial Aesthetic Surgery,” appearing in the September issue of the Aesthetic Surgery Journal

“That the current economy is affecting patients’ choices around facial rejuvenation isn’t so surprising, since previous surveys from ASAPS have shown a decrease in aesthetic surgical procedures and a slight uptick in nonsurgical procedures over recent years,” said T. Jonathan Kurkjian, MD, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, who served as lead author of the study. “What is surprising, however, is the disconnect between physicians’ perceptions of patient preferences and actual patient preferences on costs and treatment longevity. Contrary to physician views, the survey results suggest that even for nonsurgical facial aesthetic options, treatment plans should focus more on longevity than on immediate impact.” 

The two surveys were conducted by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons (AAFPRS) (patient survey) and the Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation (ASERF) (physician survey). Over half (53 percent) of respondents considering facial plastic surgery (N=204) had been affected by the economy in their decision to move forward with medical antiaging treatments. The majority affected respondents said they were likely to either delay facial plastic surgery for one or more years (59 percent) or pursue less-costly options such as microdermabrasion (32 percent). The vast majority (95 percent) also reported that they would prefer a longer-lasting treatment over one with an immediate effect, but shorter duration; furthermore, 60% felt that duration of treatment was more important than cost in selecting a facial aesthetic procedure. In contrast, only 61 percent of plastic surgeons felt that patients preferred long-lasting results, with 82 percent responding that they believed patients would prefer an immediate result lasting one year over a procedure with more gradual effects that lasts over two years. In addition, 63 percent reported that they believed cost was a more important factor for their patients than treatment longevity.

“These survey results show that we should  be aware of our patients’ desires when it comes to nonsurgical cosmetic procedures,” said Foad Nahai, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Aesthetic Surgery Journal. “There is an opportunity here to better communicate with patients, discussing the pros and cons of nonsurgical treatments, particularly longevity of these treatments. As the survey indicates, we may find that patients are willing to accept higher costs if they know their procedure will have longer-lasting results.”   

About ASAPS
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body.  ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.

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