Dr. Julian Few, a Chicago-based plastic surgeon, acknowledges that he's seen a dramatic increase in procedure gifting, prompting him to start offering the type of electronic gift cards one typically gets at department stores.
"I had one patient come in and say that she was giving 'Few' this year," Dr. Few said. "At first I didn't know how to take it, but it's a sign of the times I think." Dr. Few said he's sold more than 50 gift cards so far this season, many of them for lower priced procedures like medical-grade peels, which cost between $150 and $200. An owner of a small company even came in to Dr. Few's office and purchased medical facials for his employees. But the trend is definitely not limited to stocking-stuffer level procedures.
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"I've really seen it all with holiday gifting. I've seen mothers get daughters laser hair removal. I've seen sisters give sisters treatments, usually an injectable," Dr. Elizabeth Hale, a Manhattan-based dermatologist said. "It's very common that if one sister has already tried Botox or a filler injection, she will gift one to her sister to 'let her try it too.' It's almost like the generous spirit makes her more comfortable that she is doing it herself!" Botox generally costs between $550 and $1,100, depending on how many areas you treat.
Besides generous Botox gifts given by enabling sisters, Dr. Few also has patients who have bought loved ones gift certificates for a syringe of Voluma, the newly FDA-approved filler on the market. The filler's effects last twice as long as other fillers, and one syringe typically costs about $1,500. We've now officially moved beyond stocking stuffer and into designer handbag-level territory here. But it goes even further.
Dr. Few revealed that he's even sold a few gift certificates to husbands who want to gift their wives some major procedures, like liposuction and even a neck tightening procedure. "Instead of going on a trip or something, they decide they want to do that special thing for their spouse," Dr. Few said. In these cases, the wife had already come in for a consultation and had decided to postpone the procedure, but continued to talk about it at home, giving the husband that "aha!" gifting idea. (I was heartened to hear that a husband wasn't giving a spontaneous neck tightening procedure to his wife for the holidays.)
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Ladies won't be the only recipients of Botox and peels this holiday season, though. About a third of the gift certificates Dr. Few sells are to women to give to male significant others. And unlike their male counterparts, who generally wait for a woman to say she wants Botox, women have no compunctions about giving it to their men unsolicited.
Dr. Eric Schweiger, a dermatologist and founder of the Clear Clinic in N.Y.C., told me, "The wife knows that her husband complains about the '11' between his eyes and knows he won't do anything, so she'll buy Botox for him." According to Dr. Few, "Men tend to be afraid to say they want it, but once they're there, they actually will push more for it."
But what about that hallowed annual tradition in which everyone compares the loot they got? Dr. Few says there's no shame in that Botox game. "The application has become much more subtle and really viewed as maintenance and a tool for aging gracefully."
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