After her fourth child, Lisa Wilkie said she wanted a little cosmetic work.
She felt having children had taken a toll on her body so she made an appointment to discuss breast augmentation. After that procedure in 2017, Wilkie, 34, also began Botox, an appointment she’s made every 12 weeks for about two years.
“You just want to feel good,” she said. “Now it’s part of my routine.”
Millennials are showing up in plastic surgeons’ offices for a variety of procedures. Some request surgery. But many want “prejuvenation,” or what the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery describes as noninvasive treatments like Botox or chemical peels that aim to slow the results of aging.
In survey results released Jan. 23, 72 percent of the group’s members surveyed reported an increase in cosmetic surgery or injectables in patients younger than 30. Five years earlier that number was 58 percent.
The group predicts the emphasis on early maintenance for people in their 20s and 30s will increase. “We’re seeing a lot more younger women coming in just for preventative reasons,” said Dr. Gregory Wiener.
Why are millennials looking for plastic surgeons? For one, social media. Almost all surgeons surveyed — 97 percent — said celebrities have an influence on facial plastic surgery. On Instagram, celebs show off enhanced lips, selfies in doctors’ offices, thanking them for improvements, and people pouting in chairs in before-and-after photos.
Wiener said patients show him selfies, saying, “When I post something … I don’t like what I’m seeing.”
He said, “People would tell me that before social media when they’d see a photograph of themselves, but now they’re seeing photographs of themselves all the time.”
Plastic surgery used to be something people didn’t openly share. But social media has changed that.
“It’s really not taboo anymore,” Wiener said.
Many might simply see cosmetic surgery as a form of self-care. Dr. Lara Devgan, a New York City plastic surgeon, said young women establish self-care routines that translate to aging prevention and maintenance. They ask her for “baby Botox,” she said, to look “better but not different.”
Dr. Phillip Langsdon, president of the academy, said there are limits. “We have to be very selective in that age category, because some young people can perceive that they need something because they see a photograph of another person on the internet.”
Denver plastic surgeon Dr. Manish Shah also cautioned the under-30 set: Don’t overdo it. It could actually make one look older later. Fillers could eventually thin out lips, making them look older and more wrinkled, he said.
His suggestions? Sunblock, vitamin C, eating healthy and quitting smoking. Even “baby Botox,” he said, can be a gateway to larger procedures.
And consumers should do their homework. Not all those who advertise are board-certified; patients should check to make sure their surgeon is certified by a medical board.
For Wilkie, the feeling of looking fresh has not lost its magic.
“It’s more about preventing things from happening,” she said. “It’s dancing that fine line. I don’t want to do it too early or too late.”