The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) released its 2022 member survey outcomes. With in-person work, events and socializing moving towards a return to pre-pandemic levels, 2022, like 2021, saw an increase in demand for facial plastic surgery and cosmetic treatments, according to the survey. In fact, 58% of AAFPRS facial plastic surgeons report an increase in bookings and treatments over the past year, with more than 75% indicating they have seen a bump of more than 10% in patient demand.

“As people returned to the office and eased back into the routine of daily life without quarantine, interest for elective surgeries and non-invasive ‘tweakments’ remain high,” shares AAFPRS President Theda Kontis, MD. “In 2022, our members continued to see the impact of the ‘Zoom Boom,’ with 79% of respondents pointing to the “Zoom Effect” as a major contributing factor in patients’ desire to seek treatment.” A second source of motivation, following closely behind the Zoom Effect at 60%, was an increase in disposable income. “Many patients reported spending money saved during the pandemic on cosmetic procedures,” says Kontis.

According to the new data, 82% of the total number of procedures performed in 2022 were minimally invasive; the remaining 18% were surgical. Of these, the three most common treatments were neurotoxins, fillers, and topicals (think chemical peels), while the top three surgical procedures were facelifts, blepharoplasties, and rhinoplasties. Perhaps unsurprisingly, according to the survey, rhinoplasty continues to be the single most requested surgery among patients under 34 years old.

What’s more, women continue to reign when it comes to undergoing facial plastic surgery, according to the findings. In 16 of the 18 procedures tracked, surgeons indicate more of their patients are women, with the exceptions of hair transplantation, which skews toward men. Otoplasty, surgery to diminish ear prominence, has the highest gender equality.

Meanwhile, members’ responses indicate a resurgence in demand for sharp, prominent cheekbones à la 90s supermodel icons Cindy Crawford, Kate Moss, and Naomi Campbell. Fifteen percent of facial plastic surgeons reported an increase in buccal fat removal to achieve a slimmer facial appearance. As the AAFPRS points out, the intentional removal of buccal fat was the most headline-making trend of 2022, taking Hollywood (and those who take a cue from its A-listers) by storm. This was followed closely by the hollowed-out ‘Ozempic Face,” trend, a side effect of the diabetes weight-loss drug Semaglutide.

The AAFPRS notes that while popular, all of this cheekbone worship certainly has many surgeons scratching their heads, as the procedure delivers the opposite effect of filler and fat injections, a common request of middle-aged women hoping to re-inflate the cheeks of their 20s. The moral of this story? Patients, according to the association, need to consider the long-term effects of any surgery—buccal fat removal included—very carefully before proceeding. “Buccal fat surgery is not reversible—so while you may love the look in your 20s and 30s, as you age, your face naturally loses fat, and therefore volume,” says Kontis. In regard to “Ozempic Face” specifically, she points out that rapid weight loss can actually accelerate the aging process. “Like any massive weight loss treatment, Semiglutide treatments can cause fat pads to shrink, making facial volume depleted and the skin can appear lax and saggy,” she says. “Of course, we can treat these unwanted side effects with everything from fillers to facelifts, but the point is there’s no such thing as a magic pill.”

Now when it comes to Gen Z, the survey found that despite the fact that the media has been quick to brand the phrase “Snapchat dysmorphia” to label what it sees as the phenomena of Gen Z seeking treatments and tweakments aimed at mimicking Snapchat filters, in reality, the survey found, Gen Z’s influence in the aesthetic marketplace is not yet generating leaps in facial plastic surgery procedure numbers. And as the AAFPRS sees it, that’s probably a good thing. Consistent with 2021, close to 75% of facial plastic surgeons report increases in the number of patients under 30 years old requesting cosmetic surgery or injectables, representing a consistently higher plateau over the 5 previous years. But pre-juvenation and low-to-no downtime is still top of mind for these age groups; 78% of AAFPRS members believe there will be a greater emphasis on earlier maintenance and age prevention starting in the 20s to 30s to forestall bigger procedures and surgeries for later down the road. In fact, this year’s survey indicates that surgical procedure activity sees significant increase once patients reach the 35 to 55 year age group.

So while there isn’t much credence behind “Snapchat Dysmorphia,” patients have indeed taken 2020’s Zoom effect a step further; in 2021 and 2022, a desire to up that selfie game took center stage. In fact, a whopping 79% of facial plastic surgeons agree that looking better in selfies continues to trend upward. To that end, lip lifts, a new category for the 2021 survey, were up 3% in 2022; at least 73% of AAFPRS members performed lip lifts in 2022 versus 70% in 2021. According to the AAFPRS, as facemasks continue to become less and less prevalent, this intel doesn’t really come as a surprise. The trendy procedure aims to remove some skin under the nose in order to shorten the skin of the upper lip, overall increasing the amount of visible pink lip. “We lose bone under the nose as we age, which can cause the nasal tip to droop and the upper lip to elongate; in other words, ‘the table becomes too small for the tablecloth,'” says Kontis. “By removing this excess upper lip skin, it shortens the upper lip skin and everts the upper lip, which results in a more youthful appearance.”

Another selfie-boosting procedure, the blepharoplasty, has seen an upward climb in popularity, with blephs sitting just behind rhinoplasty as the most-requested procedure of 2022. “Upper blepharoplasty removes the excess skin above the eyelid, reducing that hooded appearance that can occur naturally with age, while lower blepharoplasty targets the fat pads below the eye, restoring a smoother, more youthful look,” says Kontis. “Both are relatively minor procedures that lend themselves to tremendous patient satisfaction.”

The bottom line, according to the AAFRPS, whether patients are considering significant surgery or a trendy tweakment, choosing a qualified surgeon is a non-negotiable. Steve Jurich, CEO and executive vice president of the AAFPRS advises, “Finding the right, most qualified, physician to perform any procedure is priority number one. Always select a surgeon specifically trained in procedures of the face, head, and neck and make sure the physician is qualified, experienced and board-certified in the procedure you want.” The good news? Just 20% of surgeons report patients referencing celebrities when coming in for consultations, which points to a more educated consumer base, thanks to the multitude of candid plastic surgery depictions on social media and the prevalence of data driving individual research.

The 2022 AAFPRS annual member survey was conducted in December 2022 by ACUPOLL Precision Research Inc through an online survey from a select group of the organization’s 2,200 members.