Throughout Europe, Aesthetics Are Accessible and Acceptable

By Katie Middleweek, Editor, European Cosmetic Markets | August 29, 2011

The subject of aesthetics is certainly one that is growing in prominence in the Big 5 countries with all five reporting increased interest from consumers. Often consumers can simply walk into clinics in order to get procedures such as fillers and Botox, as the procedures have become much more accessible and mainstream.

And when it comes to procedures undertaken by surgeons, such as breast augmentation, facelifts and rhinoplasty for example, these are also on the increase, as many plastic surgery industry bodies will testify.

France Fills the Gap

The French aesthetics market was valued at approximately $265 million in 2010 and has seen a steady rise in filler and Botox procedures in recent years as French consumers increasingly use them in their quest to look youthful. According to industry body ISAPS, the total number of surgical and non-surgical procedures reached 297,438 last year with surgical procedures accounting for 141,831 of these cases. Liposuction is the most popular surgical procedure in France followed by breast augmentation and blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery).

Facial rejuvenation is also a big area in France and the aesthetics market has seen an increase in energy-based devices such as LED-type products. Therefore, procedures that make use of this gentle light/laser technology are on the increase as they have a less invasive and long-term action on the skin when helping to prevent the signs of aging.

One such LED-based product comes from Filorga with its Lumitherapist product, which forms part of the brand’s home use kit. This is a combination of a hand-held device that contains the latest generation LED technology with 13 diodes, capable of emitting blue, yellow and red light waves, and a topical LED Booster that contains photo-active ingredients to maximize the effect of the device.

According to the company, the combined effect helps to stimulate cellular metabolism, fibroblasts, tissue regeneration and replenish the skin.

German Growth

There has been a distinct increase in surgical operations both in male and female patients, compared to previous years, according to Dr. Matthias Gensior, the general secretary of Germany’s largest interdisciplinary body for aesthetic surgeons, Gesellschaft für äesthetische Chirurgie Deutschland (GÄCD). This is based on 2009 figures, as those for 2010 are not released until later this month.

Figures rose by 20% from 141,000 operations conducted by members of the GÄCD in 2008 to 171,000 operations in 2009. Anti-wrinkle operations were particularly popular with Botox procedures and hyaluronic acid filler injections growing by 50% compared to 2008’s figures.

“These figures show that more new patients in Germany, and especially younger patients, are having procedures done than in previous years,” explained Dr. Gensior about this steep increase. “A lively media interest in the topic of aesthetic surgery and increased coverage in respectable magazines and daily newspapers in the country have increased the acceptance of these types of procedures as far as patients are concerned.”

“In our medical practices we are also noticing how well informed the patients are about procedures which also shows an improved press coverage in the media as a whole,” he said.

The most popular types of surgeries were identical with both male and female patients—surgical laser operations in the facial area, of which 80,740 procedures were carried out in 2009. This was followed by liposuction (19,237 procedures in 2009) and eyelid operations (12,483).

Saving Up for Surgery

Although there are no official figures available at present, the Italian aesthetics sector is booming with more Italians than ever going without a new car or a holiday to have a little “job” done on themselves.

According to research company Doxapharma, in a study carried out in April this year with a sample of 1,000 women, it was discovered that the most popular centers for aesthetic procedures in Italy are LaClinique (49%) followed by Pro.R.De Vita (32%). The awareness of Italians about aesthetic treatments is also growing with the research showing that 61% of men and 54% of women have knowledge of aesthetic organizations in Italy, which is certainly more than it was previously.

The most popular procedures in Italy are Botox and hyaluronic acid for the face and laser and light treatments for the face and body (tattoo removal, for example).

A Natural Enhancement

Like virtually every other aspect of the economy, aesthetic surgery has been hit by the economic crisis in Spain, but some $252 million is still spent each year on a variety of processes in clinics and hospitals alone.

The most popular operation in Spain is, common to the global trend, liposuction followed by breast enlargement and rhinoplasty. While in previous years, aesthetics treatments had perhaps overly visible results, the key word nowadays is “natural.”

“This means little retouches that are hardly perceptible but the result is a more defined face, revitalized skin or a younger facial expression,” said Dr. Ángel Luis Sierra, a specialist in aesthetic medicine at Clínica Londres, which has aesthetics clinics all over Spain.

“This natural trend is such that people are not aware of the aesthetic treatment taking place, they simply see the patient looking more beautiful without knowing why,” noted Sierra.

Much can now be achieved with fillers and a recent arrival on the Spanish market is Radiesse Volumising Filler from Merz Aesthetics. The calcium-based microspheres and gel in the product are designed to reduce the signs of aging by stimulating the skin’s natural collagen levels, boosting its volume and reducing wrinkles. After a simple injection, the results can last for up to a year and, in some cases, even longer.

An Increase in Injectibles

The UK aesthetics market has held up well in the past year despite the squeeze on many consumer budgets due to the recession. According to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), the number of aesthetic surgical procedures showed a slow but steady rise last year, increasing 5% to 38,274 procedures.

Breast augmentation, blepharoplasty and face and neck lifts were the most popular surgical procedures among women, while for men, rhinoplasty, gynaecomastia (breast reduction) and eyelid surgery topped the charts. In fact, in men, the number of breast reductions, or “moob jobs” grew 28% to 741 procedures.

Popularity was also strong in the non-surgical procedures market with demand for treatments such as Botox, fillers and other injectibles showing no signs of waning.

As a result, the aesthetic trend is beginning to filter down to the high street with several non-professional brands launching products specifically targeted at the post-operative market.

For example, NuBo has introduced a highly concentrated serum designed to act against the telltale signs of aesthetic procedures such as Botox, filler injections, microdermabrasion, chemical peels and mesotherapy. It is claimed to act against irritation, helping to restructure the skin’s connective tissue, reducing redness, bruising, swelling and puffiness. And L’Oréal brand La Roche Posay has launched Cicaplast Pro-Recovery Skincare, designed for flaking, chapped skin and skin that has undergone a cosmetic peel.

There is little doubt that the aesthetics market is on the march in Europe with people now confident that they can be more open about what procedures they are having and why. Many would certainly feel that it is the bringing of such issues into the mainstream that has made it more acceptable and therefore has encouraged its growth. And aestheticians and clinicians alike are hoping this growth continues.


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