Cosmetic Surgery - Written by Ron Myers

19/03/2005 | Feminine Zone

Cosmetic Surgery - An Overview

Dermal Filler Injection
Read this if:
  • You’re interested in plastic surgery
  • You want to know what can be done
  • You want to know where to go

“If there’s one thing worse than being an ugly duckling in a house of swans, it’s having the swans pretend there’s no difference.”Teena Booth
Recent years have seen an explosion in discussions about plastic surgery – suddenly, it’s not only acceptable, it’s positively desirable, even trendy! What’s going on? Industry expert Ron Myers tells all.


It is now estimated that the worldwide market for cosmetic surgery and facial cosmetic rejuvenation, is valued at nearly $12 billion in sales¹ and is growing at $1 billion a year. This study, Facial Cosmetic Surgery and Rejuvenation Markets, predicts that over 15 million procedures from simple botulinum toxin injections to full surgical rhinoplasty will be performed in 2004, and that by 2006, that number will be well over 21 million. Furthermore, the majority of the procedures will be simple injections or laser treatments for wrinkles.

In addition, the worldwide cosmeceuticals market (specialist “anti-ageing” creams and lotions) is estimated at over $1.58 billion in 2004 and is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 12.6% to reach more than $2.86 billion worldwide by 2009². Market growth is accelerating as consumers demand over the counter solutions and prescription products with better efficacy and safety profiles that meet their needs for protective anti-aging and photodamage agents.

Probably the first “cosmetic procedure” was the use of chemical peels to soften and improve the appearance of the skin - dating back over 3,500 years to the ancient Egyptians. Many different types of chemical peels are now available and they are now in the top 5 cosmetic procedures used worldwide. However, the “Cosmetic Surgery” market only really began to show real growth when facelifts came into fashion in the 1960’s. This was followed by breast implants in the 1970’s and liposuction in the 1980’s.

The use of injectable products started in the 1940’s on a limited basis with some surgeons using medical grade silicone – although this is still used today by some “back street surgeons” most practitioners would not use silicone to augment lips or reduce lines and wrinkles today.

The real use of injectable treatments started with the launch of collagen injections in the US in the 1980’s. These quickly found acceptance amongst mainstream practitioners as a treatment for lines and wrinkles/scars and to produce the famed “Paris Lip” effect. In fact collagen injections could probably be credited with kicking off the “lunchtime non-surgical treatment boom” where people could have a cosmetic procedure and return to work the same day.

However, the product that really took the market by storm was Botox® - already used in the early 1980’s for medical conditions affecting the eye area (squint and blepharospasm), a pioneering husband and wife team of Doctors in Canada began to document its effect for the treatment of wrinkles. Word quickly spread amongst the cosmetic surgery community and the media who dubbed the treatment “Pretty Poison” have helped to make Botox® almost a household word!

Botox®, which comes under the category “minimally invasive non-surgical medical aesthetic treatments” creating an observable result with few downsides and a relatively low price point. These features linked to the incredible publicity and widespread uptake of the product by virtually all cosmetic practitioners has resulted in Botox® becoming the world’s No1 cosmetic procedure.

In the early 1990’s another major section of the market opened up – the use of lasers and, latterly, Intense Pulsed Light devices. Originally used for Facial Skin Resurfacing (essentially producing a controlled burn to reduce wrinkles on the face) – they have now been developed for a multitude of applications ranging from hair removal to the treatment of acne.

With society’s increasing focus on vanity, trends for obesity, the availability and promotion of newer treatments with no downtime and few side effects; it is not surprising that the market has seen explosive growth rates in the last 10 years.
Media Types
The Media

Various media sources – including newspapers, magazines and television, have always been fascinated with the cosmetic surgery market place.

Initially these treatments and procedures were seen to be used by “Stars” and “Celebrities” or the super rich. Now, with the advent of reality TV shows such as Extreme Makeover and The Swan, the focus is very much on “ordinary” people who aspire to improve the way they look.

There has been a backlash against some of this programming by many Surgeons in both the US and the UK – regarding the sensationalising stance of many of the programmes that are now being made around this subject.

It seems that it’s no longer good enough to produce a well rounded educational programme on the benefits and drawbacks of any cosmetic procedure. This is epitomised by “The Swan” in the US which takes “average looking people” and makes them more beautiful – and then put them head to head in a beauty pageant to compete against each other.

However, as these programmes appear to attract large audiences, production companies seem set to continue in this vain for the foreseeable future.

Cosmetic Surgery – The good and the bad

Regulation of this industry seems to be difficult for Governments to achieve. Although some clear guidelines are laid down regarding cosmetic surgery, it appears that the non-surgical side of the industry (injectables such as Botox®, Dermal Fillers, and milder chemical peels) is essentially unregulated.

This is probably more evident in the UK than the US where the great majority of practitioners using these products are still Consultant Plastic Surgeons and Dermatologists. In the UK, most non-surgical procedures involving injectables are performed by General Practitioners or Nurses – and the level of training is often poor as there are no approved standards agreed regarding training courses.

Not only that, there has been a plethora of new brands of dermal fillers, chemical peels, and medical aesthetic equipment flooding into the market as manufacturers see the demand and aspire to take a share of the market. Unfortunately, many of these are not extensively tested and their effectiveness and safety profiles only really become apparent through use in the market on paying customers!

In addition, in the US there are many specialist clinics focussing on Cosmetic Surgery or Medical Aesthetic Dermatology – in the UK, many non-surgical injectable treatments are performed in beauty salons by a visiting Doctor or Nurse, although in the last few years cosmetic dentists have also decided to enter this section of the market.

In the UK in 2000 the Government bought in new legislation to regulate certain aspects of the cosmetic surgery market place – predominantly those clinics performing surgical procedures such as breast implants and facelifts, and those operating laser/IPL equipment for hair removal or skin rejuvenation. Clinics promoting procedures in these areas need to be registered with The Healthcare Commission – although some industry commentators and suppliers estimate that there may be up to 1,000 clinics (often beauty salons) still operating using laser equipment illegally today.

Differences also abound in how clinics market these treatments, both from a legal and ethical perspective.

For example, in the US it is legal to advertise prescription medicines, but in the UK it is illegal to advertise Botox® or any other prescription medicine direct to the General Public – although we know of many clinics that do!

If you look broadly at industry advertising and promotional brochures, most of the images used to promote cosmetic surgery treatments adopt the same stance as the beauty industry as a whole – i.e. beautiful, perfectly proportioned people with fantastic skin!

Although there is nothing illegal about this, imagery is part of the selling process and can be used to detract from factual information and subtly attract certain people towards believing that they may be able to look like the images portrayed if they underwent surgery.

Botox® parties and the use of “Gift Vouchers” for cosmetic treatments are marketing techniques used by some clinics in the industry, but is often frowned upon by other companies/practitioners as being an inappropriate way to market these sorts of procedures.

The “Cosmetic Surgery” abroad market has expanded significantly in recent years with “cut price” surgery being offered in Eastern Europe, South Africa, and some parts of Asia. Marketing of this concept is extremely unpopular with surgeons resident in the US or UK – mainly on the grounds of quality or results, hygiene standards and the “What happens if?” question when you come back home and there is a complication.

New marketing opportunities have been opened up by companies specialising in Cosmetic Surgery Exhibitions – the first of these in the UK was launched in September of this year and was called “The Body Beautiful Show”. This provides yet another route for clinics and suppliers to get their message across to a public hungry for information.

Buyer Beware

Although many people have benefited from and enhanced their lives by purchasing cosmetic treatments – there are many dangers for those people who enter this arena uneducated.

Conflicting claims, different business models, an increasing array of products and treatments or procedures being promoted make this an increasingly confusing industry for people working within the business – let alone the general public who may be thinking of purchasing a cosmetic treatment.

Our recommendation to anyone thinking of improving the way they look with cosmetic treatments is to do your research first!

Websites such as and other similar unbiased information websites should be your first port of call to learn more about the market, the treatments promoted within it, and the clinics and practitioners involved.

  1. Kalorama Information is a leader in worldwide business intelligence and syndicated market research in life sciences – for detailed reports please visit
  2. Research and Markets :

Ron Myers BSc(Hons) - Editor of

Has spent 15 years in the pharmaceutical industry and was involved with the launch of Botox® in the UK.

In 2002 he set up Aesthetic Business Services Limited with Martyn Roe.

ABS Limited is a Consultancy Company focussing their services on the Aesthetic Industry.

Through their many contacts with suppliers, aesthetic organisations, and leading practitioners they have amassed a huge amount of knowledge concerning the Aesthetic Market Place.

They built The Consulting Room™ - in 2003 as a vehicle to disseminate accurate and unbiased information concerning this market place for consumers, the press, and clinics and practitioners.

The Consulting Room™ has gone on to become the largest UK independent aesthetic
Information website.

In addition The Consulting Room™ is the ONLY major search directory in the UK who check that the clinics in our sponsored listings section are registered with the Healthcare Commission (where appropriate) giving consumers total peace of mind that these featured clinics receive regular inspections from an independent government body.

© 2004 Limited