The Integration of Aesthetic Medicine into Primary Care

The steadily rising number of cosmetic procedures performed in the United States, which grew by nearly a quarter million from 2017 to 2018, continues to rise as advancements in technology, increased availability and accessibility of treatment, as well as a social media-driven de-stigmatization of plastic surgery influence consumer demands. Expenditure on cosmetic plastic surgery exceeded $16.5 billion last year, and current estimates predict the global industry will surge to a valuation of $40 billion by 2023.

In light of dramatically increasing patient spending on and demand of cosmetic procedures – of which there were 17.7 million in 2018 – the industry of aesthetic medicine may soon require a helping hand. Researchers point to primary care as the potential partner to plastic surgeons and cosmetic specialists, with a growing trend of physicians adopting Botox injections and chemical peel treatments into their practice.

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The Importance of an Online Presence for Physicians

While healthcare remains a primarily offline industry with the majority of services rendered during in-person office visits, the rise of telemedicine and other advancements in digital technology are increasingly bringing the field online. As both patients and medical providers utilize the internet, smartphones, and social media regularly, research implicates an increasing value for physicians to maintain a strong online presence in order to attract patients, strengthen visibility, and share relevant medical information.

Research indicates that 80% of physicians use smartphones and medical applications, while many healthcare providers use the internet frequently to educate themselves and share information about their specialty with patients and clients. A growing number  of physicians (93% of respondents) believe health apps improve health outcomes,  with 40% of respondents agreeing  that mobile health services – including applications and social media – can reduce the number of in-person medical visits.

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Reversing the Biological Clock

While the current increasingly aging population and enhanced human lifespan are signs of great advancement in medical technology, population aging also contributes to a variety of socioeconomic, environmental, and healthcare-related difficulties, significantly straining the global economy and healthcare system. The medical community began investigating potential biomedical strategies of reversing the aging process several years ago in the hopes of diminishing cognitive decline, weakening of the immune system, and other negative effects of biological aging. In doing so, researchers have made significant discoveries in the field, one of which now provides a definitive basis of measurement for determining biological age – the epigenetic clock.

Developed by Dr. Steve Horvath, professor of Human Genetics and Biostatistics at UCLA, the epigenetic clock utilizes the body’s epigenome and specifically, changes in DNA methylation state to determine a person’s biological age, which may often exceed or fall behind their chronological age. Dr. Horvath’s discovery has helped to elucidate novel aspects of the aging process and deepen our current understanding, promoting further research efforts aimed at uncovering the complexities of reversing systemic aging. Thus far, attempts at the reversal of biological aging have not been confirmed by epigenetic age changes although the latest trial results from California implicate the potential to effectively reverse the aging process for the first time.

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