6 Innovations to Know About From 2021’s Biggest Aesthetic Meeting

It’s been a long year of quarantining, virtual meetings and office openings and closures for doctors around the world, but that hasn’t stopped the demand for cosmetic surgery treatments, as this also the same year that gave us the “Zoom Boom” responsible for an uptick in cosmetic treatments.

This past weekend in Miami, top plastic surgeons met for the 2021 The Aesthetic Society Meeting, their first in-person conference since the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year. Here, plastic surgeons from around the country share their biggest takeaways and what prospective patients can expect for the future of cosmetic surgery.

Facial Rejuvenation Innovations

“The biggest takeaway from the 2021 Aesthetic Society meeting is the combining of surgery and nonsurgical technology is the rule not the exception, as it was just 15 years ago when a small group of us were developing the techniques used today,” notes Chicago plastic surgeon Julius Few, MD, who served as a panelist at the meeting. “It is an exciting time and the ability to do natural appearing, revitalizing work to make men and women appear their best has never been easier. I was honored to present a new product, developed at MIT, that dramatically reduces visible bruising and swelling with surgery, especially in the facelift patient. It is a topical gel that is applied effortlessly under the skin before completing the facelift skin closure.”

Revisiting Rhinoplasty Practices

Campbell, CA plastic surgeon R. Laurence Berkowitz, MD said the meeting was a chance for doctors to brush up on age-old practices that they’re still employing today. “One of the most important advances that will affect my rhinoplasty practice is the preservation of the natural dorsum to reduce a nasal hump,” he explains. “While the technique is actually over a century old, it had been lost to all but a few practitioners. This will not be the way we manage most noses, but for many simple humps it should simplify the rhinoplasty procedure.” 

Topical Botox + Technique Refinement

“There were a number of things that were discussed at the meeting, like a potential new topical Botox, but we don’t know enough about that yet. We need more information and the right data before people jump into having some of these treatments done,” says La Jolla, CA plastic surgeon Robert Singer, MD. “Most of the panels were really about the refinements of procedures to give more natural results, whether with breast augmentations, breast lifts with augmentations, facelifts and the continued evolution of the techniques. As I always say, three different chefs cook different ways, but they still end up with a good meal. So, while there are many different approaches, there’s not just one approach to many of these procedures.”

Better Together: Just Add Fat

For New York plastic surgeon Mokhtar Asaadi, MD, two big takeaways had to do with the rise of using fat grafting in conjunction with other procedures to boost volume. “Some of the main points we discussed were that breast augmentations can be done with breast implants and fat grafting at the same time. Also, with facelifts, fat grafting should be done as part of the facelift procedure at the same time.” Dr. Asaadi, who is an expert in treating festoons under the eyes, says that treatment should be done as part of a mid-facelift. “Festoon treatment requires mid-face lifting,” he says. “They cannot be corrected by a traditional lower blepharoplasty nor facelift alone.” 

Breast Implant Safety

“On a more specific note, there was much discussion regarding issues facing society globally on the topic of breast implants and so-called ‘breast implant illness,’ and BIA-ALCL,” says La Jolla, CA plastic surgeon Joseph Grzekiewicz, MD. “I can tell you that our concern as a specialty has never been greater for finding true, evidence-based answers to the many questions swirling around this subject. Excellent well-designed research by leading surgeons and scientists in collaboration around the world is in progress, and we are making huge strides in figuring out a safe and reasonable way to move forward so that our patients will feel safe and we still retain this option to help the millions more women that will benefit from breast implants.”

Updated Safety Protocols

Reno, NV plastic surgeon Tiffany D. McCormack, MD says the meeting offered doctors a chance to compare which practices they’ve implemented since the pandemic and what is working for them the most: “I would say that it was great to hear that everyone is doing very well post-pandemic. Many surgeons have made positive changes in their practices having had some time to re-group during the closures,” explains the surgeon. “Many will keep these positive changes in place post-pandemic. Changes in protocols, staffing and patient care to improve flow, safety and the overall patient experience.”

Sharing in that sentiment is Louisville, KY plastic surgeon M. Bradley Calobrace, MD, who spoke about the measures he and his staff have taken at his own practice. “The aesthetic meeting this year was a breath of fresh air—a true step towards normalcy during COVID. I gave a talk on protocols we changed in our practice that we now are keeping. There were so many speakers and courses, but the most significant takeaway for me was spending time with old friends and colleagues in person. No Zoom meeting can ever match the experience of spending time with colleagues learning and sharing.”

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