Story and photos by Julia McAlonan/Arizona Sonora News
For young women, plumping your lips is becoming mainstream. With the popularity of Instagram and other social media influencers, young women are being led to believe that having enhanced lips is beautiful.
Millennials have been turning to cosmetic enhancements more than any previous generation of young people, and the most popular enhancement is “lip augmentation.” Entrepreneurs in the field also are looking to the so-called “Gen Z” generation, those born starting in 1995, a group that includes today’s college women, for new business opportunities.
A Tucson med spa, ZL MedAesthetics, identified the trend, and is offering “Sorority Special” discounts to what it regards as a prime new market, University of Arizona sorority women. The spa even accepts Cat Cash, a form of payment used by university students.
According to Laura Zimmerman, a board-certified aesthetic nurse practitioner and owner of the Med Spa, millennials are considered the fastest growing consumers of lip injections.
The American Med Spa Association defines a med spa as “a hybrid between an aesthetic medical center and a day spa” that provides non-surgical aesthetic medical services under the general supervision of a licensed physician with on-site supervision by a licensed health care professional.
Zimmerman’s MedAesthetics med spa is at 7051 Oracle rd., about nine miles from the University of Arizona, where millennials and members of Gen Z, which happens to be the largest generation in America, abound. That’s a waiting market, she says.
“Right now, only about 15 percent of my patients are students, but I expect that to change,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman targeted her audience by walking door to door to sorority houses during their chapter meetings. The Sorority Special includes a $25 discount on lip injections. There are about 37 cosmetic clinics in Tucson, but Zimmerman has been especially aggressive in looking to sororities. The University of Arizona has chapters of 24 national sororities and womens fraternities.
“My motivation to choose sororities actually came from a college student who was in the clinic,” Zimmerman said. “She told me that a lot of University of Arizona women are increasingly interested in cosmetic enhancements and recommended that I target them.”
Among the many reasons younger women might seek cosmetic enhancement is the quest for the perfect selfie, a trend that “is warping the self-confidence of many younger people in unsettling ways,” a prominent plastic surgeon in Virginia, Daria Hamrah, told The Washington Post on March 13 in an article on the cosmetic enhancement phenomenon. A survey of members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons last year found that social media was driving more plastic surgery requests than any other social influence — “more than TV, movies or magazine photography,” Hamrah wrote.
According to Nielsen Company, because of our technological advances, millennials access social media services and spend an average of six hours a week scrolling through social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Through social media, along with television shows like Keeping Up with The Kardashians, young women are being influenced to desire cosmetic procedures more than ever. And lip injections are among the most common enhancements shown off by celebrities, television personalities and Instagram influencers.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that in female patients between the ages 20-29, face-shaping cosmetic procedures have risen 10 percent over the last year. In 2016, lip augmentation procedures on women ages 20-55 had increased by 50 percent since 2000.
“I have considered lip injections countless times. They are all you see all day, every day, on models that fill your Instagram feed. These girls, their lips are so beautiful, you can’t help but want to look like them,” said Megan Long, a University of Arizona student.