Understanding the Confluence of Industries
Historically, plastic surgery and aesthetics were predominantly managed by independent clinics and medical practitioners. However, in recent times, we have witnessed a significant influx of private equity firms investing heavily in this niche sector.
Approximately $3.1 billion in private equity capital has been invested across 400 medical spa and aesthetic clinic transactions (McKinsey, 2021) over the past five years. Recent M&A transactions in this space and reflecting this trend include:
Increasing Demand: One of the primary factors driving private equity’s interest in plastic surgery and aesthetics is the surge in demand for cosmetic procedures. The global cosmetic surgery and procedure market size was valued at USD 63.4 billion in 2021 and is projected to exhibit a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.6% from 2022 to 2030 (Grand View Research, 2022). In an analysis done by Springer Nature and International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery 2022, the number of cosmetic operations in the plastic, aesthetic and reconstructive surgery department of a hospital increased by 49.4% in 2021, compared to 2020, and increased by 29.7% compared to 2019. The societal shift towards body positivity and self-improvement, coupled with advancements in technology and techniques, has led to a growing number of individuals seeking aesthetic enhancements.
Profitability: The aesthetic industry is uniquely positioned to yield substantial returns on investment. Procedures such as Botox injections, dermal fillers, and laser treatments offer attractive profit margins with relatively low overhead costs, making it an enticing prospect for private equity firms.
Market Fragmentation: The plastic surgery and aesthetics sector has historically been fragmented, consisting of numerous small and medium-sized clinics. Private equity’s involvement has enabled consolidation, streamlined operations, and creating economies of scale. In 2015, L Catterton, a US-based PE firm, made a significant acquisition by obtaining Ideal Image. Following this acquisition, the medspa chain underwent a remarkable transformation, revamping its brand, expanding service offerings, reducing prices, and establishing new locations. In a similar vein, Potomac Equity Partners, headquartered in Washington, DC, has been strategically acquiring multiple players in the aesthetics industry, including Laser MD Medspa, Sculpt MD, and Laser Gentle Medical Spa. They were able to develop a comprehensive cross-brand medical aesthetics platform, which involves expanding medspa locations and making substantial investments in operations, marketing, and technology.
The Impact on Patients
The involvement of private equity in plastic surgery and aesthetics offers several benefits.
Improved Access to Services: Private equity’s investment can lead to enhanced infrastructure, technological upgrades, and better access to a broader range of aesthetic procedures in various locations. Patients in underserved areas may experience improved accessibility to cosmetic treatments.
Pricing Transparency: Private equity investment may bring about standardized pricing and greater transparency. Patients can expect clear pricing structures, reducing the likelihood of hidden fees and inflated costs.
Navigating Ethical Challenges
The involvement of private equity in plastic surgery and aesthetics raises ethical questions that need careful consideration.
Regulation and Oversight: The intersection of private equity and healthcare calls for robust regulatory oversight to ensure patient safety and ethical practice. Striking the right balance between innovation and protection is crucial.
Long-Term Viability: As with any industry, private equity investors expect significant returns on their investments. The challenge lies in maintaining the integrity of patient care while meeting financial expectations.
The recent emergence of plastic surgery and aesthetics in private equity healthcare represents a paradigm shift in the healthcare industry. While it offers promising opportunities for growth and improved patient access, ethical concerns and patient care standards should not be compromised.
Striking a balance between profitability and ethical practice is the key to ensuring that this transformative trend continues to benefit both patients and the industry at large. As the landscape evolves, it is essential for stakeholders to collaborate and uphold the principles of patient safety, transparency, and responsible innovation to unlock the full potential of this convergence.
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