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The Lipstick Effect

By: Melinda Taschetta-Millane
Posted: June 29, 2009
Merge magazine cover

A recent survey, conducted by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), addressed how “The Lipstick Effect” theory can parallel current trends in noninvasive cosmetic procedures.

A parallel effect

The Lipstick Effect—derived from a phrase recently re-coined by Leonard Lauder, chairman of Estée Lauder, when he saw a huge jump in lipstick sales after Sept. 11, 2001, in spite of economic uncertainty—is compared in the survey to the 80% of board-certified facial plastic surgeons who reported an increase in noninvasive cosmetic procedures within the past year. This increase was due to consumers looking to delay the effects of aging and to avoid more costly surgeries. The most requested procedures? Botox, 96%; dermal fillers, 93%; and ablative skin resurfacing treatments, 92%.

Despite a repressed economy, both women and men are willing to spend hard-earned money on noninvasive procedures to help them look and feel refreshed, with some even opting for procedures in order to stay competitive in the workforce. “In challenging economic times, clients want value when it comes to investing in their health and the appearance of their face,” says Donn Chatham, MD, president of the AAFPRS. “Value does not mean cheap, it means quality gained for the investment.”

According to the International Association for Physicians in Aesthetic Medicine (IAPAM), “During times of economic uncertainty, consumers load up on affordable luxuries as a substitute for more expensive items.” Medical spas and medical aesthetic practices are seeing patients choosing dermal fillers over face lifts, and laser lipolysis over surgical liposuction.

Merge magazine

In the recent years before the recession, the industry witnessed the growth of the medical spa format, which is an area that even today has been relatively unhurt by the current economic climate. According to the International SPA Association (ISPA), the medical spa industry is showing a 19% annual growth rate—the fastest-growing spa type, and the IAPAM says that the medical spa industry in the United States has experienced a growth rate of 133% during the past five years.