Cosmetic procedures are still in demand in Canada, but more patients are requesting non-surgical facelifts, according to findings of a recent survey conducted by Medicard® Finance Inc. and Cosmetic Surgery Statistics Canada.

Medicard® survey reveals rise in industry, but shift in focus.

The demand for surgical facelifts has taken a slight dip, as increasingly knowledgeable patients opt for the non-surgical option and alternatives to the knife. The survey does show, however, a rise in cosmetic enhancement industry with 642,828 procedures conducted in the last year.

The survey provides the fourth consecutive year of statistics conducted by Medicard since 2002. Historically, the market has relied solely on data from the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. The latest survey, conducted from May 2005 to April 2006 on cosmetic physicians across Canada, measured the number of procedures performed in the past two years and analyzed the data based on variables including procedure, gender, geography, physician and age of patient. To collect data, more than 2,500 surveys were sent out to board certified surgeons and physicians, as well as dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons and physicians throughout Canada.

Non-surgical facelifts replace surgical facelifts as top choice

Canadians are still fighting the aging process and the battle with gravity, but now patients are shifting their interest to non-surgical facelifts with 4,185 patients (a 19 per cent increase) versus 3,519 patients in 2004. Non-surgical facelifts are performed in a doctor’s office, have instant results, minimal recovery time and are non-permanent. Interest in surgical procedures has dropped, with 2,185 procedures conducted in 2005 versus 2,300 in 2004.

“The decrease in demand for surgical procedures is directly related to the increasing acceptance of non-surgical treatments,” explains Ann Kaplan, president and CEO of Medicard. “It is important to note, however, that while the demand for surgical facelifts may have leveled, it has leveled at a significant height.”

Newer procedures such as the FeatherLift™ and ThreadLift™, as well as treatments involving electrical currents, injectable fillers such as Restylane® and Perlane®, non-surgical lifts utilizing Botox® and most recently, Restylane SubQ™ have penetrated the market. The demand is staggering, with a 325 per cent increase since the number of practices offering these services in 2002. Last year alone, 4,185 Canadians had some form of non-surgical facelift, either Thread or FeatherLifts, Thermage® or Pan-G.

Kaplan explains the shift as a stepping stone, or complement to surgical facelifts. “There are many ways to attack the enemy. Non-surgical procedures are becoming the norm, and patients are learning these procedures can complement, enhance or sometimes replace surgical options,” explains Kaplan.

Physicians claim that 44.32 per cent of their patients have some knowledge as to what is available and 25.16 per cent actually research their options before stepping into a doctor’s office. These numbers can partly be attributed to the amount of information available to consumers via media, advertising, consumer and trade shows and reality-based television. In contrast, 14.27 per cent of consumers are entering the doctor’s office misinformed. “Having a cosmetic procedure is becoming as mainstream as buying a car,” continues Kaplan.

“Consumers now research what is available, price the competition and make decisions based on the quality, performance and aesthetic attributes of what they will receive. And, not unlike a vehicle, it all comes down to delivery and service.”

What was once less common and considered elitist has now become an expectation for the aging population, and the demand for cosmetic and corrective treatments for a new set of patients is evidence of this.

The 2005 survey reveals the top Canadian procedures in order (both surgical and non-surgical) are Botox, injectable fillers, laser hair removal, liposuction, non-surgical facelift, breast augmentation, blephorapasty (eyelid lift), rhinoplasty and surgical facelifts.

Botox remains one of the most successful industry growth stories, with more than 142,374 Canadians injected in 2005, showing an estimated growth of 16.67 per cent versus the 100,569 in 2004. Liposuction, and the pursuit of instant weight loss remains at the forefront of the Canadian market with 29,064 patients seeking treatments in 2005 (9 per cent growth) versus 26,664 patients in 2004, and a staggering 40 per cent growth since 2002, with 21,061 Canadians seeking the fat and reduction procedure. Breast augmentation and in particular, the silicone implant, is steadily gaining popularity. The new cohesive gel implant now accounts for a significant portion of the North American market. In Canada alone, 19,289 women sought breast augmentation in 2005, a 6 per cent increase from 18,000 patients in 2004, and (an impressive) 33 per cent increase evident from 14,461 in 2002.

According to the Medicard findings, the typical patient is a female between the ages of 35 and 50 and living in Ontario. Women account for 83.5 per cent of the market and 44 per cent are located in Ontario, followed by B.C. and Quebec.

Men make up 16.5 per cent of the market seeking surgical procedures such as liposuction, rhinoplasty and eye lifts, and non-surgical procedures including Botox injections and laser hair removal.

Kaplan expects to see the number rise as men claim a larger part of the market, creating the next big trend shift in the industry. “Men don’t want to look like grandfathers standing next to their wives,” she hypothesizes.

While doctor’s practices report 72 per cent of their patients are between 35 and 50 years of age, the second largest group is, surprisingly, between the ages of 19 and 34, followed by those over 50 years old and under 18 years old.

Those under 18 years of age typically seek mole or laser hair removal.

Concludes Kaplan, “Parallel to the growth in cosmetic enhancement procedures, Medicard had received more than 180,000 Canadian applications to-date for financing, and is now offered in more than 3,500 practices across Canada, with more than 60 per cent of those funds directed toward cosmetic procedures. Clearly the statistics speak for themselves and underscore Canadians’ growing acceptance of cosmetic enhancement,” she concludes.

The survey was conducted by Medicard Finance Inc. and Cosmetic Surgery Statistics Canada and between May 2005 and April 2006.

It explored data within the cosmetic enhancement industry via a data collection form mailed to a sample of 1,500 surgeons and cosmetic physicians randomly chosen from medical databases listing all physicians in Canada.

A further 1,500 surveys were faxed and 200 surveys were distributed at a 2005 national medical convention and again in 2006. Telephone follow-up was conducted to 1,500 offices during a one-week period in 2005 and in April 2006.

Information was stratified and broken down into variables including procedure, gender, geography, physician and age, then tabulated. Final figures are projected to reflect nationwide statistics. The survey portion of this research has a standard error or +/- 3.79 per cent at a 95 per cent level of confidence.

Medicard Finance Inc. is Canada’s number one exclusive medical procedure finance company, headquartered in Toronto. Formed in 1996, it provides health-related financing packages, information and services to Canadians for elective medical procedures. Employing a staff of 32, Medicard processed more than 24,000 credit applications last year and has established itself as an industry innovator. For more information, go to 

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