Goddess Brouette didn’t want to wait much longer. It was time to get her lips filled.
After months of research, she decided last year to get a treatment at Upkeep on the Upper East Side of Manhattan that would make her lips more plump.
“I wanted my lips to be a more prominent part of my face and in photos,” said Brouette, who vlogged her experience on her YouTube channel. “[Lips are] something you just can’t ignore. So it’s always bothered me.”
Brouette, a 22-year-old pharmaceutical marketer who also writes adult contemporary fiction, credits Covid-19 with helping her make the money to pay for the Juvederm lip fillers she’d been eyeing.
“The pandemic definitely gave me the ability to afford it,” she said. “So, why not spend money on something I’ve wanted for years?”
With Covid protocols relaxing and Americans emerging after two years at home, medical spas — or medspas — like Upkeep are looking to sustain a trend toward beauty procedures.
Medspas are operated by licensed medical professionals but often look and feel like boutique personal service. They service men and women alike and specialize in aesthetic services, such as laser hair removal and medical grade-skin therapies.
Medspas are seeing customers increasingly drop in for more robust treatment plans, according to industry experts, doubling up on face and body treatments in lieu of individual procedures or consultations.
Americans at all income levels saved more money during the pandemic, according to Moody’s Analytics estimates and government data, allowing some to invest in their beauty.
In 2021, the U.S. medical spa market was estimated at $4.8 billion, according to a report by market research firm ReportLinker. The U.S. currently accounts for 37.7% of the global medspa market, which is projected to reach $25.9 billion by 2026, according to the report.
The three most popular procedures at medspas all involve injections, according to The American Medical Spa Association. Those include:
- Neuromodulators, used to soften facial muscle activity and reduce wrinkles, such as Botox,
- Hyaluronic acid fillers, temporary skin fillers, such as Juvederm,
- and microneedling, used to help with skin tightening and the removal of acne scars.
Alicia Bernal, manager of the Z-Center for Cosmetic Health in Sherman Oaks, California, said while many customers are looking for immediate rejuvenation as pandemic winds down, others are looking for long-lasting impact.
“People kind of want to look their best now that they’re getting out of Covid. So they want to treat their skin, and they’re investing more into procedures that give them long-term effects versus just doing injectables to kind of give you only short-term outcomes,” Bernal said.
The personal services industry as a whole was hit hard at the beginning of the pandemic when establishments like salons, barber shops and spas shut down for weeks or months. The industry has since made a comeback, with growth in overall employment, new locations and output expected to outpace prepandemic levels, according to the International Franchising Association‘s 2022 Economic Outlook report.
“I think we’re just looking at this as being a year where everything is going to get brighter and we’re going to get to another side that is even more exciting,” said Christina Russell, CEO of wellness franchise Radiance Holdings.
A 2021 study, conducted by skincare brand StriVectin and surveying 2,000 Americans, found that Zoom calls have significantly impacted consumers’ attention to beauty and skincare. According to the study, 44% of consumers have researched how to look better in video calls, and 33% have been frustrated to the point of considering cosmetic procedures.
And the increased facetime has had spill-over effects, with a move toward more full-body beauty treatments.
Body shaping and contouring account for an 18.8% share of the global medical spa market, according to the ReportLinker industry report. One particular service, called Qwo, has seen a notable jump in interest.
Qwo, the first FDA-approved cellulite injectable — produced by pharmaceutical company Endo Internationaland cleared for use in the U.S. in July 2020 — is regarded as a cornerstone treatment for cellulite by the company.
Maneeha Mahmood, co-owner of Aesthetica Medspa in Paramus, New Jersey, says that the spa is seeing a lot interest in Qwo, leading up to the summer months.
“Previously cellulite was really hard to deal with because cellulite is not caused by how hard you work out or what you eat,” Mahmood said. “And a lot of people inject filler around their butt, but it never actually addresses the cellulite.”
Mahmood explained that cellulite is caused by fiber bands in the butt that give a rippling effect when they tighten up against the skin. After weight gain, fat cells can push up against the skin to give the appearance of dimpled skin.
Liposuction, a popular surgical body sculpting service, is also high in demand at medspas like Flawless Image Medical Aesthetics in East Syracuse, New York.
According to owner Katie Din, liposuction demand, along with prescription weight loss treatments, among customers increased in the past year and hasn’t slowed since.
“Our weight loss section has been busier since the pandemic because a lot of people put on weight working from home, not having to go out in public,” Din said.