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  • By Anthony Youn, MD

    As a cosmetic plastic surgeon, I often have patients ask me what’s the latest on the horizon in the field of plastic surgery. Are there procedures that they should save for? In the near future will there be cheaper and easier ways to change their look than what we are currently doing now?

    Here are my Top 9 Plastic Surgery Predictions for 2009:

    #9. Plastic Surgery Vacations will become more and more popular. As our country falls into recession, greater and greater numbers of people will save money by combining plastic surgery and vacations. Americans will travel to Mexico, Brazil, and even India in an attempt to save money and look better. I predict that this trend will unfortunately bring about an unprecedented number of disturbing complications, as people bring their botched results back to the U.S. for American plastic surgeons to treat. The lucky ones, however, will come back looking both rested AND younger.

    #8. Fat, from both from animals and people, will become a new Green resource. There are reports that a renegade Beverly Hills radiologist used liposuction fat to power his SUV to work each day. While this is an extreme example, I do believe that the work on Biofuels will continue, with liposuction fat on the periphery of this trend. No, I don’t plan on ever doing this.

    #7. Sculptra will gain FDA approval as a liquid facelift for the general population. With the realization that facial volume loss is an integral component of the aging process, Sculptra treatments may take center stage in the fight against facial gauntness. Sculptra is currently only FDA-approved for treatment of HIV-associated facial wasting, but has been used in Europe for many years under the name Newfill. It is currently the only injectable filler that can produce generalized volume replacement in the face without excessive cost.

    #6. 2009 will bring with it a plethora of new extreme, bizarre, and unusual plastic surgeries. 2008 brought us such plastic surgery oddities as cosmetic leg lengthening, the G Shot, the Boob Jab, and the Acupuncture Facelift. I expect fringe medical practitioners to do the same in 2009. Can we expect to see actual rib removal to thin the body, removal of the omentum (fat around the intestines) to decrease a protuberant tummy, or tummy tucks performed at the time of C-sections? Not by me!

    #5. Will Gummy Bear Implants Boost Busts in 2009? In November 2006 the FDA lifted the ban on silicone gel implants. Since then plastic surgeons and patients in the know have been waiting for FDA approval of the form-stable, “gummy bear” breast implants, the only silicone breast implants that did not receive approval two years ago. These firm, textured, tear-drop shaped implants are made to retain their shape and not conform to the shape of surrounding tissues. They are already in widespread use throughout many other countries in the world. Will the FDA approve these implants for general cosmetic use in 2009? Thousands of plastic surgeons and patients hope so.

    #4: Nonsurgical Liposuction Techniques Run Rampant… As Do Disappointing Results. One of the hottest procedures today is nonsurgical liposuction. Cosmetic practices throughout the country are advertising fat reduction via injections, external lasers, external ultrasound, and even by freezing the fat (called cryolipolysis). While these techniques sound intriguing, none have actually been proven to safely work…yet. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is currently conducting an FDA-approved study on Lipodissolve, with the initial results due in the near future. While the only proven way to safely and effectively remove fat is via liposuction, 2009 may bring considerable advances to some of these, so far, unproven modalities. I expect that most will fall by the wayside, although a few may be proven to safely work.

    #3: Eyelash Enhancing Medication “Latisse” Hits Big in a Blink. Recently an FDA advisory panel recommended approval for this eyelash stimulating medication from Allergan, the makers of Botox. Peak sales are estimated to reach $500 million, as this treatment will be a one of a kind. I expect Allergan will see huge profits from this topical medication, as will the physicians that dispense it. And people will walk around with Tammy Faye Baker eyes…

    #2: Stem Cells are the Future in the U.S., but the Present in Other Countries. Stem cells are currently all the rage in potentially curing cancers, developmental abnormalities, and other medical problems… but are they the future for plastic surgery as well? Actually, stem cells are currently being used by some pioneering (and possibly reckless) surgeons outside the U.S. Dr. Vincent Giampapa introduced a stem cell facelift in France back in October and a handful of surgeons are performing breast enhancement with stem cells in Japan and Europe. So will we see stem cells being used by plastic surgeons in the U.S. in 2009? Not likely. The FDA is cautious with allowing procedures like these to be performed here in the States, and with good reason. Scientists need to prove that the use of stem cells for indications like these is safe and effective before allowing patients to undergo it. Until then, Americans will need to travel abroad for these extremely controversial treatments.

    #1: Botox-Competitor Reloxin will act as an Economic Bailout for Millions of Botox Users in 2009. FDA approval for Medicis’s cosmetic botulinum toxin Reloxin is expected sometime in the new year. This may prove to be a relief to patients and plastic surgeons who have been forced to buy Botox at increasing prices each year. I currently charge my patients $650 for Botox injections to three areas, and the price of the Botox product itself accounts for at least half of that charge. Reloxin will be the first legitimate Botox competitor to challenge Allergan’s monopoly on this market, and hopefully bring prices down for the most popular cosmetic treatment in the U.S. It can end up being an economic bailout for the millions of people who undergo cosmetic botulinum toxin treatments several times a year.


    About the Author

    Dr. Anthony Youn, Plastic SurgeonDr. Anthony Youn is a Michigan-based board-certified plastic surgeon, and a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. He has been featured on E! Television’s Dr. 90210 and Celebrity Plastic Surgery, The Montel Williams Show, Fox News Channel, The O’Reilly Factor and quoted in US Weekly, In Touch, Life & Style Weekly, RADAR magazine, MSNBC, OK! Weekly, and Star Magazine discussing a wide range of plastic surgery issues. His blog Celebrity Cosmetic Surgery is the most read blog by a plastic surgeon in the country and has received nearly 6 million hits. Learn more about Dr. Anthony Youn.