Why the medical aesthetics industry is crisis-proof and growing

Why the medical aesthetics industry is crisis-proof and growing

By Maikel Boot

During the last two years of restrictions and lockdowns due to the pandemic, the business of medical aesthetics has proven to be remarkably crisis-resistant. This may be surprising in a time when personal contact and meetings were officially discouraged.

Obviously, the urge to look and feel good is impervious, driving a solid, resilient and rapidly growing market that now even extends to juveniles as well as to women and men of all ages due to society-driven pressures to look more youthful, rested and invigorated. 

The development of “no downtime” minimally invasive to noninvasive aesthetic procedures is just one of the drivers of the increasing demand for professional treatments. Social media-driven promises of safer procedures and instant results have accelerated the procedural volume in the pandemic period for those seeking treatments such as:

  • Enhanced skin tone and texture
  • Wrinkle reduction
  • Hair growth and hair removal
  • Facial contouring
  • Fat deposit and body composition rebalancing
  • Restoration of sexual function
  • Tattoo removal

So, what are the latest technologies redefining the medical aesthetics industry?

This article will discuss how new technologies, methods, and applications are changing the global medical aesthetics market. 

The medical aesthetics industry: Quick facts and stats

  • The global medical aesthetic devices market is projected to grow at an annual rate of 11.1% from 2022 to 2030, reaching an estimated USD 34.54 billion in 2030.
  • The global aesthetic medicine market was valued at USD 16.5 billion in 2022 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.5% from 2023 to 2032.
  • Minimally or noninvasive medical aesthetics treatments increased by 10% between 2017 and 2018 and have increased nearly 200% since 2000.
  • North America was projected to contribute more than 41% of market revenue in 2022, representing the largest share of the market. 
  • The US medical aesthetics market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.1% by 2030, with the noninvasive segment showing higher growth than invasive procedures. 
  • Invasive procedures include liposuction, breast augmentation, and nose reshaping, and orthodontic dentistry and hair transplants are some of the most popular aesthetic procedures in high demand. The growing focus on physical appearance has increased the appeal of these invasive procedures.

What’s currently driving the medical aesthetics market?

An aging population 

The World Health Organization estimates that by 2030, 1 in 6 people worldwide will be aged 60 years or over, and this market segment is known for its disposable income. The relevant markets are Japan, China, the EU, and other wealthy countries where the over-60 population is much higher (Japan and South Korea: 1 in 3 people; China: 1 in 5 people; the EU: 1 in 5 people).

Social media presence 

The widespread use of social media has transformed not only the way we communicate but also how we interact and view ourselves. The so-called selfie culture and the increased desire to look good on social media accounts have become major drivers for invasive and noninvasive aesthetic procedures.

Simultaneously, sophisticated personalized advertising platforms and more open communication about medical aesthetics treatments, have contributed to increased awareness and a more positive view of cosmetic procedures, even at a younger age. 

Growing demand for low-cost aesthetic medicine

The advancement of minimally invasive and noninvasive aesthetic procedures is fueling the increasing demand for noninvasive procedures. Furthermore, clients of aesthetic procedures are cash-paying customers, and the service providers love the fact that they don’t have to deal with insurance reimbursements.

Vanishing taboos 

Tattoos and sexual rejuvenation treatments are two things that no longer have any negative connotations.  The tattoo industry is now a $3 billion per year business. We are currently seeing more people with tattoos than without, and it seems inevitable that the tattoo removal business will grow at an even higher rate. Currently, treatments leverage a variety of laser technologies with new solutions in advanced stages of development.

The availability of nonsurgical options for treating menopausal symptoms, incontinence, sexual function, rejuvenation, and performance issues for both men and women are among the latest growth trends in the industry. These treatments along with male enhancement procedures and cosmetic breast reconstruction have spread around the world, even to places where women are looked down upon and sexuality is looked down upon. Many of these treatments are based on platelet-rich plasma (PRP) delivery by electroporation. 

Innovation dynamics in the medical aesthetics industry:

The high-end device market is dominated by a few behemoth, serial-merged Wall Street players, but it is the innovative startups that garner buzz and attention at industry conferences and events, often leading to potential mergers with key market leaders that have the deep pockets necessary for market entry.

Startups are often started by doctors who want to improve treatment or who want to specialize in more areas of medicine so they can meet a new or unmet medical need or take advantage of an opportunity for technical differentiation. Medical aesthetic companies rely on their clinicians to provide feedback on their solutions and often work in collaboration with them.

Invariably, a scientist or innovator picks up the challenge of building a feasibility model for the physician to try, and at this stage, they apply for patents. This modus operandi is a powerful innovation driver: Inventors and people who break new ground should focus on an early buyout or merger. They can develop technology and methods quickly on a small budget, which is something the global player who buys them can’t do. 

Almost all new treatments follow this pattern, and it is usually the doctors who are researching the treatment who define and improve the protocol and bring it to the attention of the leaders in the field.

Leading global medical aesthetic device suppliers include Syneron-Candela, DEKA, Solta Medical, Lumenis, Revance Galderma, AbbVie, Evolus, and Alcon. All these contenders have in common the fact that their size is the result of many acquisitions of startup innovators.

What are some examples of medical aesthetic devices on the market?

Cynosure – PicoSure Pro: Cynosure announced on June 1, 2022, the launch of PicoSure Pro. This next-generation aesthetic laser device is able to deliver 755 nm of energy in picoseconds. Its unique technology delivers energy quickly in a way that prevents thermal damage while targeting unwanted pigments.

PicoSure Pro removes unwanted pigment safely in varying skin types and is the only FDA-cleared picosecond device for the treatment of pigmentation conditions like melasma, nevus of Ota and Hori’s macules. It also claims to improve overall skin tone and texture and is effective for the reduction of wrinkles, fine lines, and freckles, the elimination of scars, and tattoo removal.

Alma Lasers – Alma TED: Hair loss is recognized as an extremely emotionally distressing disease, which has seen an increase after the pandemic due to the side effect of COVID-19 and the trauma of the pandemic itself. To address this growing concern, in March 2022, Alma Lasers launched Alma TED. This new ultrasound-based device uses acoustic sound and air pressure that works to improve blood flow and represents a new alternative to traditional in-office medical aesthetics treatment solutions that are, in general, limited and more invasive.

Cutera – truSculpt Flex: An increasing number of people are adopting medical aesthetics procedures to reshape their bodies. These procedures include the use of radio frequency, ultrasound, infrared light, and even injectables to reduce fat.

truSculpt flex, launched in December 2021 by Cutera, is a muscle-stimulating device that, according to the company, can strengthen, tone, and firm different muscles in just 15 minutes. The device uses Cutera’s proprietary Multi-Directional Stimulation system to deliver direct electrical muscle stimulation and achieve deep muscle contractions at high intensity.

AbbVie (Allergan) – CoolSculpting: With “cryo” meaning “cold” and “lipolysis” meaning “to break down fat,” the process known as “cryolipolysis” is used to treat stubborn fat. CoolSculpting is a cryolipolysis treatment that doctors use for the elimination of visible fat bulges in the submental (under the chin) and submandibular (under the jawline) areas, the thigh, abdomen, and flank, along with bra fat, back fat, underneath the buttocks, and upper arm. 

Philips – Lumea IPL Series 9000: Intense pulse light (IPL) hair removal devices are able to cause a permanent reduction or removal of unwanted hair. Medical aesthetic devices like the Philips Lumea Series 9000 which uses light at multiple wavelengths to target hair melanin, are safe, adaptable, and designed to be easily used at home. They offer a cheaper and more practical alternative to laser hair removal procedures, which must be done by a trained professional.

A booming market, but with limited at-home market growth:

There is a persistent enticement for the industry to enter the at-home treatment market by miniaturizing professional technology (e.g., Lumea IPL); but so far, successes have been sketchy. 

While the reasons for the absence of success stories are many, at the top of the list are regulatory hurdles. For a device or method to be effective, it has to be FDA cleared, and that is a real challenge. First, the efficacy of an at-home use device will be marginal and the user expects performance like what the clinical (point of care) technologies deliver.

In general, at-home devices just don’t live up to the hype and are mostly ineffective. This fact is supported by the conspicuous absence of bona fide brands and vendors. The vast majority of at-home treatment medical aesthetics devices are made in Korea and China and are offered on Alibaba and Amazon. The technology uses mostly low-level light diodes, and the effectiveness is minimal. 

In addition, a frequently overlooked reason for what entices people to reach out to professional medical aesthetics establishments is the social interaction element. The client wants to be pampered by the nurse, aesthetician, or physician, and they want to communicate with the treatment provider. This is clearly affirmed by the many regular client visits to the same clinics. Clients love to get their “before and after” shots taken so they can post them on social media.

So, what determines the success of a new instrument or technology?

The key criteria for success and market survival is the product and/or device’s safety and efficacy. Negative outcomes can shorten the lifespan of the product, so untrained hands or unauthorized use can impact a product or technology’s adoption.

Today’s medical aesthetics practices demand ease of use for clinicians. The learning curve for the doctor and staff must be short and the results compelling. If a device is complicated to use or the clinical results are less than 100%, doctors will not use or promote it. If practitioners are not comfortable with the use of a device, they will walk away because they can’t afford to risk lawsuits. 

The medical aesthetics industry is well aware of this and responds by fielding devices and methods to meet doctors’ and patients’ expectations. Balancing both needs is the basis for the projected sustained growth of the medical aesthetics business.

The service providers want minimal learning time, safe equipment requiring minimal service, and the ability to attract both new clients as well as returning clients for recurring or additional treatments, while the patient expects minimal or no downtime, no pain, no risk, and instant gratification. 

Three key takeaways:

  1. The business of medical aesthetics has proven remarkably crisis-resistant during the past two years of pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns and is projected to grow at an annual rate of 11.1% from 2022 to 2030, reaching an estimated USD 34.5 billion in 2030.
  2. There is a lot of M&A activity in the medical aesthetics space, driving a continuous evolution and a strong competitive environment for startups. 
  3. While at-home devices are enticing, the successes have remained limited due to the regulatory constraints around laser power for consumer use and, as a result, limited clinical benefit. 

If you have any questions or would like to know if we can help your business with its innovation challenges, please leave your info here or contact Jeremy Schmerer, Healthcare & Life Sciences Lead, directly at jschmerer@prescouter.com or Linda Cohen, Strategic Accounts Manager at lcohen@prescouter.com.

Never miss an insight

Get insights delivered right to your inbox

More of Our Insights & Work

Never miss an insight

Get insights delivered right to your inbox

You have successfully subscribed to our newsletter.

Too many subscribe attempts for this email address.