Woman in bandage after cosmetic surgery.

Digital Filters Influence Surge in Cosmetic Procedures

Smart phones seem to make everything easier, including communicating desired cosmetic improvements to your physician.

June Allan Corrigan Health & Wellness

Woman in bandage after cosmetic surgery.


As photo-filtering apps and AI technologies continue to improve, more individuals seeking cosmetic plastic surgery and nonsurgical dermatologic procedures are using their own digitally enhanced portraits as references for physicians. Requests for smoothed skin, slimmed cheeks, and a more youthful visage are on the rise.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reports a 19 percent increase in cosmetic surgical procedures from 2019 to 2022. Close to 30 percent of surgeons say their business doubled during that window; many point to women between the ages of 31 and 45 as instigators of the surge.

“Millennials are sophisticated in terms of getting the information they want. They share their experiences through social media,” ASPS board member Dr. Bob Basu said in a press release documenting the findings. “Because of this sharing, patients also come in well-versed about procedures. It allows us to have a productive discussion about their options.”

A multipronged approach often yields the best results. That’s been the experience of Rancho Mirage board-certified dermatologist Dr. Wendy E. Roberts, whose patients long for skin that appears airbrushed. “It’s a new trend I refer to as ‘nude face perfect,’ ” she says. “It calls for a talented expert who can literally turn the skin around, making it super even, maximally hydrated, and wrinkle free.”

A combination of treatments is required to achieve such magic, but Roberts has figured out the recipe. “The tools I use include PRP stem cells, Microtox injections, microneedling, yellow laser, and CryoAesthetic technology.”

Industry professionals are accustomed to patients presenting idealized, filtered photos. “It happens without them even being conscious of it,” says Dr. Timothy Jochen of Contour Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Center. “It’s problematic, but it also motivates people to get things done because they want to look like their filter.”

Among the new trends: Buccal (cheek) fat removal. The demographic seeking it tends to skew younger. Removing buccal fat can achieve a chiseled, hollowed-out look that accentuates cheekbones. However, some question whether such surgery will prematurely age the face. “If you do it when you’re young, I think it’s OK,” says local board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Mark Sofonio. “There are certain people who just have really heavy cheeks.”

The face has several layers of fat, Sofonio explains, but as people age, those layers begin to disappear. “As we get older, everybody tends to get a thinner face. Part of the reason we look aged is because we’ve lost volume.” Fortunately, providers are well equipped to help each patient navigate and understand the options that will yield the best results for them.

Nip and Tuck

Three trending procedures for a “fountain of youth” effect.

Lifted Lids: Blepharoplasty, or eyelid surgery — removing excess skin, fat, or muscle to eliminate droopiness — was the most-performed facial procedure of 2022, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), with more than 115,000 surgeries performed by ASPS member surgeons.

Sculpted Jawline: A new, minimally invasive treatment called Ellacor is proving adept at tightening jowl lines and minimizing lipstick lines. It utilizes micro-coring technology to remove micro-portions of excess or lax skin. “Shrinking the amount of skin surface actually tightens things up,” says Dr. Timothy Jochen, who began offering the treatment six months ago and reports a rising demand.

Plumper Pout: Thin-lipped women are opting for lip lifts whereupon a single incision made in the shape of a bullhorn below the nose lifts the lip up and exposes more of the red or mucosal surface. “It gives you a real, legitimate lip flip instead of trying to do it with five units of Botox,” Jochen says. Aging causes the space between the nose and lip to increase and flatten, another situation a lip lift can solve.