By Scott Newman, MD

More than 10.5 million cosmetic procedures were performed in 2011 – an increase of more than 197 percent. And the number is still growing.

The statistics from The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reflect the evolution of aesthetic medicine over the past few years. Conceptual changes have altered the approaches to facial aging, especially as they relate to the forehead, eyelids and lower face. Technological changes include the increasing use of the laser for facial cosmetic surgery and minimally invasive techniques for face, breast and body contouring. As a plastic surgeon, I am now performing about half the number of face-lifts I performed in 2005. On the other hand, I am seeing five times the number of patients for nonsurgical treatments, including Botox, fillers, laser and skin tightening.

Why consider cosmetic surgery? Patients choose cosmetic surgery for many reasons. Some want to recapture the looks they had in their youth. Age, sun damage and childbirth can take a toll on the face and body. There are many plastic surgery procedures that can bring back a youthful appearance. Today, many procedures have better results and shorter recoveries than ever before.

Liposuction, tummy tucks and breast augmentation are popular choices for women who want their pre-pregnancy figures back. Facial surgery, laser and injectable treatments can erase the lines that come with age and restore quality to the skin in ways never before possible. People who have rejuvenating plastic surgery procedures do so, because they want to look like themselves, only better.

There is a steep increase in the number of “career” people who are enhancing their appearances through plastic surgery. Their opinion is that this can be a necessary step to compete with their younger colleagues. Although I have always seen many entertainers, politicians and models in my practice, I am now treating many executives, professionals and salespeople who say that their appearances change the way they’re viewed both within their business and to prospective clients. The general feeling is that “looks matter.”

Social pressures also cause many people to seek out a cosmetic surgeon, although this isn’t always the best reason to opt for plastic surgery. Talk to your doctor about the results you can realistically expect from various procedures. Only then can you decide which approach and choice are right for you.

Cosmetic procedures can help to improve your self-confidence and add to your sense of well-being. Successful results often depend in part on how well you and your surgeon communicate and what options he or she has available. Make sure you feel comfortable with your surgeon and that you are open with him or her about your goals and questions.

Also, choose a physician who has many or all of the options available. Surgeons who perform the full range of cosmetic procedures, including skin care, injectables, laser procedures and surgery have all of the tools in their cosmetic “toolbox” and have the experience to devise a plan that’s right for you.

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