By Katherine Tinsley
In the age of Instagram, plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures are not only trending on the explore page but are also more accessible. In recent years, going under the knife or getting cosmetic procedures like botox have become less taboo and more of a part of regular conversation and maintenance routines for people outside of Tinseltown. However, with the surplus of plastic surgery content, it can be difficult to understand what is truly popular and what to ask for. According to statistics reported but the American Society of Plastic surgeons, the five most popular cosmetic procedures are breast augmentation, liposuction, rhinoplasty, eyelid surgery, and a tummy tuck. As for minimally invasive or nonsurgical procedures, the top 5 are Botulinum Toxin Type A (botox), soft tissue fillers, chemical peel, laser hair removal, and my personal favorite, microdermabrasion. I spoke with plastic surgeon Dr. Elton X Tinsley, who is located in the Chicago area, in order to have a better understanding of cosmetic trends and what to look for when considering a cosmetic procedure.
Dr. Elton X Tinsley is a proud Chicago native who has worked as a burn surgeon, trauma surgeon, general surgeon and is currently a plastic surgeon. I have been able to grow up with close proximity to a plastic surgeon and it has made me more knowledgeable than most, but I still had a multitude of questions on the current trends.
Q: How long have you been a surgeon?
Dr. T: I was a general surgeon first, then I was a trauma surgeon, then I was a burn surgeon, then I was a research fellow, and then I became a plastic surgeon. I have been doing surgery now for 34 years, and I have been in plastics for 24 years.
Q: What would you consider to be trendy right now?
Dr.T: Butt-lift surgery is super trendy right now.
Q: What about lip filler? That seems to be what I’m seeing online
Dr.T: Okay, so injections are more common than surgery which makes sense, right? There are far more injections than there are surgeries. So lip fillers and botox are very common and very popular, that’s not necessarily new in that particular category. Botox can be used as wrinkle prevention or as a wrinkle treatment. I have noticed that people with lighter skin tones are starting earlier and younger and are more concerned with wrinkle prevention. Darker complexions are starting at an older age due to wrinkle treatment, which is not the same. When you ask the question [in reference to botox treatment], it depends on wrinkle formation. There is the philosophy of “Black don’t crack” and they tend to wait and have procedures done at a much older age. There is more of a concern around wrinkle treatment with Black patients. Whereas concerns around sun exposure and skin cancer cause other fairer-skinned ethnic groups to start earlier and are more interested in wrinkle prevention. So, I start seeing botox in patients in their 30s (Dr. Tinsley has spent over 20 years studying Black skin and the majority of his clientele is Black). I am aware people are doing it younger but that is not something I am personally seeing.
Q: Would you recommend someone who is younger to start getting botox?
Dr.T: Well if you’re interested in a treatment, the question is whether or not you have an issue present that requires treatment. If for whatever reason, the average person doesn’t get depression around the eyes until 40 and you happen to have depression around the eyes at 19, then I could see why you would want early intervention. So there has to be something present that is requiring treatment in order for the treatment to be indicated.
Q: How young is too young?
Dr.T: Legally, the person would have to be over the age of 18 to have any procedure. Younger than 18 would require the consent of the parent. I am not seeing patients under 30 for botox and filler. Typically they’re considered facial aging treatments. There is very little evidence that facial aging is present before the age of 30, but then again the definition of aging begins at the moment of birth, so what’s too young?
Q: Would you personally give botox to someone in their early 20s?
Dr.T: Only if there is a condition that requires treatment. Some wrinkles form early and can be based on genetics.
Q: What are alternatives to filler? People use fillers for their lips and for jawline contouring, are there alternatives?
Dr.T: There are different types of fillers and filler is commonly used for corrective purposes, not just anti-aging. You are absolutely right. Lip filler for people in their 20s and late teens is very common. I’m not aware of any alternatives that are safe. But there are different types of fillers. There are short term fillers that last months, the most popular filler lasts about a year, and currently, there are fillers available that last up to five years. Now an alternative is fat transfers which are the removal of living fat cells from your body and then reinjection of those fat cells into acne scars, creases, folds, and/or the lips.
Q: So for your own practice, what is the most popular thing:
Dr.T: In my office, the most popular thing is liposuction.
Q: What is liposuction for?
Dr.T: The removal of fatty deposits, most commonly the trunk. The most popular liposuction is called lipo 360, which is 360 degrees around the body (which is the abdomen, sides, and back). It is used to flatten the tummy, snatch the waist, and arch the back. By far the most common procedure.
Q: For liposuction, are you seeing younger people getting it done?
Dr.T: Yeah. Liposuction among young people has been fairly common for the last 10 years. I think because of the increase in safety and decrease in cost.
Q: Do you feel like social media has a role to play in younger people getting work done?
Dr.T: There’s no question. So-called influencers are not only influencing perspectives on beauty but they are influencing where people go to seek services.
Q: You said previously that butt lifts are trendy. Are there any trendy procedures for the face?
Dr.T: For the face, it’s just botox and filler, there isn’t anything new, exciting, or different. It is just high-quality products. The most popular filler 50 years ago was collagen, and the most common application of collagen was for filling the lips. Now fillers are more advanced. Getting facial fillers is extremely popular but it has always been extremely popular. What’s new is social media. Now one person can get filler and 5,000 people can know about it in a matter of seconds.
When thinking of going to get plastic surgery or cosmetic procedures, the process of what to get and where to go can be intimidating. It is important to prioritize the quality and experience of the surgeon and not the price. In order to make sure you are getting the best procedure possible, make sure to vet your doctor and to make an appointment with a board-certified Plastic Surgeon.
Katherine Tinsley is an editorial intern who specializes in building the bridge between the industry and culture, self care, and fostering difficult conversations.