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Good-Bye, Nip and Tuck

New technologies are changing the face of America.

America’s multibillion cosmetic surgery industry is about to get a makeover, thanks to the widespread introduction of materials and methods to keep the surgeon and his scalpel at bay. Part of a trend toward minimally invasive procedures, these techniques avoid the expense and inconvenience of conventional face-lifts and other cosmetic operations. “When patients come to me, they want something that looks good, lasts a lifetime, doesn’t hurt, and can be done over their lunch hour without any downtime,” says Douglas Dedo, a plastic surgeon in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

While science has yet to deliver on all these requirements, Botox has paved the way. More than 1.7 million injections of this potent neurotoxin—used cosmetically to relax facial muscles and smooth out furrows—have been done in the United States, roughly 25% of all cosmetic surgery procedures, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Botox now earns its parent, the pharmaceutical firm Allergan, a tidy $600 million in worldwide sales. Revenue is set to grow by 20% next year, as both cosmetic and other medical applications expand; serious competition is not expected until 2005 or 2006, with the expected launch of a rival product now in clinical trials for sale in the United States by Inamed, a surgical device firm.

Nip and Tuck; Copyright © 2004 Acumen Sciences, LLC, All Rights Reserved.Less popular, for the moment, is the injection of dermal fillers; as their name suggests, these are supposed to stuff back the fullness that age has squeezed out. Today, U.S. cosmetic surgeons and dermatologists mainly use bovine collagen to plump lips and facial folds, especially around the nose and mouth. But many clients are simply too allergic, and others too squeamish in the wake of mad cow disease, to want cow collagen under their skin.