If you had to choose between being healthy or good-looking, what would you choose? This is a difficult, and indeed, a contradictory question for us living in the era where we appreciate beauty as much as we appreciate health. This question is contradictory because beauty and health are inseparable in the aesthetically conscious world. Aesthetic consciousness is one of the top drivers for most, if not all, of aesthetic procedures performed globally. The reason why we’ve evolved to appreciate beauty is because we’ve always viewed beauty as a sign of health. We view a person with clear beautiful skin as healthier than a person with acne breakouts. We view a person with slim figures healthier than an obese person. Standards of beauty are determined by evolutionary biology, and appearance acts as an indicator of the biological quality, health of an individual. Hence the amalgamation of health and aesthetics, which is clearly evident in the aesthetic medical device market.
When I research the aesthetic medical devices market, I always find a gray area between medicine and aesthetics where some devices are used for medical purposes, and some for purely aesthetic purposes. For example, silicone and saline breast implants may be used for breast augmentation, which is purely for aesthetic reasons of having fuller breasts, or for breast reconstruction after a mastectomy, which can be viewed as more of a medical procedure, given that it is covered by health insurance. Physician-dispensed cosmeceuticals is a perfect example where medical and aesthetics combine because the term ‘cosmeceutical’ was created for cosmetic industries to refer to cosmetic products with medicinal or drug-like benefits, when in fact, the FDA does not recognize such category. By the FDA definition, a product is a drug if it cures or treats something and affects the structure or function of the human body, or a cosmetic if its intended use is to promote attractiveness. The merger between health and aesthetics is also evident in the aesthetic energy-based devices market. Not only are plastic surgeons and dermatologists performing these energy-based procedures nowadays, but medispas and aestheticians are increasingly adopting energy-based devices and offering these procedures in their office. In conclusion, the aesthetic medical devices are combining two consumer groups together and it remains to be seen how these devices that are in the gray area will be regulated in the future.