Dr. Usha Rajagopal Talks Plastic Surgery Trends

Dr. Usha Rajagopal in her San Francisco Plastic Surgery and Laser Center

As San Francisco’s go-to specialist for Mommy Makeover procedures, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Dr. Usha Rajagopal is dedicated to enhancing her patients’ natural beauty and restoring their confidence. As Medical Director of the San Francisco Plastic Surgery and Laser Center, she is a recognized leader in the field of plastic surgery and aesthetic procedures, combining artistry with surgical precision to deliver exceptional results tailored to each individual patient. 

A graduate of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, her fellowship in Plastic Surgery was at the University of California at San Francisco. She is a member of American Society of Plastic Surgeons, American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, and California Society of Plastic Surgeons. Her research has been published in The Journal of Plastic Surgery, and she has presented at plastic surgery conferences, run clinical trials, and moderated guest panels for medical product and laser companies, as well as mentored other physicians and nurses on advanced injectable and surgical techniques for Allergan.

Dr. Usha consults with a patient

Dr. Rajagopal practices in a stunning San Francisco office—a welcoming space reflective of her commitment to providing a comfortable environment for her patients. This state-of-the-art facility complements her innovative approach to cosmetic surgery, ensuring a seamless experience from consultation to post-operative care. 

We spoke with Dr. Rajagopal about the latest trends in plastic surgery and personal care, and learned there is a treatment for anyone desiring to look and feel their best: 

JL: Just as in the world of technology, advancements are continually made in personal care. What are some changes you’ve seen over the years regarding aesthetic treatments?

UR: The landscape of aesthetic treatments has evolved significantly over the years. We've witnessed a shift towards minimally invasive procedures, with a focus on natural-looking results and shorter recovery times. Innovations such as injectables, lasers, and non-surgical body contouring have become increasingly popular, offering patients effective solutions with less downtime.

Aesthetic enhancement is no longer only for those addressing particular issues. A younger clientele has embraced the idea of “preventative” treatments. What are your thoughts on this?

The shift towards 'preventative' aesthetic treatments among a younger clientele reflects a growing awareness of the importance of early intervention in maintaining youthful appearances. Rather than waiting for visible signs of aging or specific concerns to arise, many individuals are proactively seeking treatments to prevent or delay the onset of wrinkles, volume loss, and other age-related changes.

From a cosmetic perspective, this approach makes sense. Many aesthetic treatments, such as botox, dermal fillers, and laser therapies, are not only effective at addressing existing concerns but also have preventive benefits. For example, botox isn't just about erasing wrinkles—it's about proactively protecting and preserving the youthfulness of your skin. Recent studies have shown that when botox is strategically injected into the skin, it has remarkable effects on the microscopic level. These studies, which examine skin samples, reveal that individuals who have undergone preventative botox treatments exhibit more stable collagen and elastin fibers compared to those who haven't had botox. In other words, their skin looks younger and healthier under the microscope. In addition, dermal fillers can restore volume loss and stimulate collagen production.

Starting aesthetic treatments early can lead to better long-term outcomes. By addressing minor concerns before they become more pronounced, individuals can maintain a more natural and youthful appearance over time. Additionally, early intervention may reduce the need for more invasive procedures later in life.

Dr. Usha's San Francisco Plastic Surgery and Laser Center is a welcoming place

The younger clientele are also more open about having had procedures, making the practice less “taboo” or secretive. Lip filler, for instance, is becoming as routine as applying lip gloss. How is this candor opening the door for others to freely experiment with their look?  

The increasing openness among younger clientele about their aesthetic procedures is definitely helping to destigmatize and normalize cosmetic treatments. By openly discussing their experiences and sharing their results, individuals are demystifying aesthetic procedures and removing the taboo associated with enhancing one's appearance.

This transparency creates a more inclusive and accepting environment, where individuals feel empowered to make informed choices about their own bodies and aesthetics. It fosters a culture of self-expression and self-confidence, where experimenting with different looks is seen as a natural part of personal growth and exploration.

What are some low risk treatments or procedures that someone new to your practice might try? What is a good place for a “newbie” to start?

For individuals new to aesthetic treatments, there are several low-risk options to consider that can provide subtle yet noticeable enhancements. Here are a few suggestions for beginners:

Facial fillers: Injectable fillers, such as hyaluronic acid-based dermal fillers, are a popular choice for those looking to add volume to specific areas of the face, such as the lips, cheeks, or under-eye hollows. These fillers can help smooth out wrinkles and fine lines, restore lost volume, and enhance facial contours with minimal downtime and discomfort.

Botox: Botulinum toxin injections, commonly known as Botox, are a non-invasive treatment option for reducing the appearance of dynamic wrinkles, such as frown lines, forehead lines, and crow's feet. Botox works by temporarily relaxing the muscles that cause these wrinkles, resulting in smoother, younger-looking skin. The procedure is quick, virtually painless, and requires no downtime, making it an ideal option for beginners.

Hydrafacials: Hydrafacial is a multi-step facial treatment that cleanses, exfoliates, extracts, and hydrates the skin using a patented vortex suction technology. This gentle yet effective treatment can address a variety of skin concerns, including fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and acne. Hydrafacials are customizable based on individual skin needs and provide instant results with no downtime, making them an excellent option for beginners looking to achieve a radiant complexion.

SkinPen Microneedling: Microneedling with the SkinPen represents a breakthrough in skin rejuvenation, harnessing the body's natural healing process to address a range of cosmetic concerns. By creating controlled micro-injuries in the skin's surface, this minimally invasive procedure stimulates collagen production, resulting in improved skin firmness, texture, and overall appearance. 

LaseMD laser: LaseMD laser treatments utilize non-ablative fractional laser technology to rejuvenate the skin and improve its overall appearance. This gentle yet effective procedure targets pigmentation irregularities, sun damage, and signs of aging, promoting collagen production for a smoother, more youthful complexion. With minimal discomfort and downtime, LaseMD laser is suitable for beginners seeking skin rejuvenation with visible results.

Morpheus8: This non-invasive fractional treatment stimulates collagen production in the deeper layers of the skin, targeting fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven texture for unparalleled results. By delivering radiofrequency energy through tiny needles, Morpheus8 triggers the body's natural healing response, enhancing skin elasticity, firmness, and overall complexion. With minimal discomfort and downtime, this customizable treatment is suitable for individuals seeking comprehensive skin rejuvenation.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

If a client books a treatment with you, what kind of service can they expect – from start to finish?

When a client books a treatment with me, they can expect a personalized and attentive experience from start to finish. Here's what they can anticipate:

Consultation: Prior to the treatment, I conduct a thorough consultation to understand the client's concerns, goals, and expectations. During this time, I also review their medical history, assess their skin condition, and discuss any relevant treatment options.

Treatment Planning: Based on the client's needs and preferences, I develop a customized treatment plan tailored to address their specific concerns and achieve their desired outcomes. I explain the proposed treatment in detail, including the procedure, expected results, potential risks, and aftercare instructions.

Comfort and Care: During the treatment, I prioritize the client's comfort and well-being at all times. I create a relaxing and welcoming environment, answer any questions or concerns they may have, and ensure they feel informed and empowered throughout the process.

Skilled Execution: I perform the treatment with precision, skill, and attention to detail, using advanced techniques and state-of-the-art equipment to deliver optimal results. I adhere to strict safety protocols and standards to minimize risks and ensure the client's safety and satisfaction.

Post-Treatment Guidance: After the treatment, I provide comprehensive post-treatment guidance and support to help the client achieve the best possible results and optimize their recovery. This includes recommending appropriate skincare products, scheduling follow-up appointments if necessary, and addressing any concerns or questions that may arise.

Follow-Up and Continued Care: I maintain ongoing communication with the client to monitor their progress, address any concerns, and provide additional support as needed. I am committed to building long-term relationships with my clients and ensuring their satisfaction and success with their aesthetic journey.

A Dr. Usha facelift patient, before and after
A Dr. Usha full face rejuvenation patient, before and after

What could be considered a “bang for the buck” treatment—a quick and painless procedure that provides a marked difference?  

When considering a 'bang for the buck' treatment, I often recommend LaseMD Laser Treatment. It's a quick and painless procedure that delivers remarkable results, making it an excellent option for those seeking noticeable improvements in skin tone and texture without extensive downtime. 

What is your personal favorite treatment?

As a professional in the field, I appreciate various treatments for their ability to address different concerns and deliver exceptional results. However, I do have some personal favorites.

In terms of surgical procedures, my favorite treatments to perform include breast augmentation, and eyelid surgery. Each of these procedures has the potential to transform not only a patient's physical appearance but also their confidence and quality of life. On the non-surgical front, I particularly enjoy administering nose fillerfacial balancing treatments, and under-eye filler. These treatments offer subtle yet impactful enhancements, helping patients achieve their aesthetic goals with minimal downtime and discomfort. One unique component of our practice that I'm particularly proud of is our V Suite, which offers a comprehensive range of treatments specifically designed to address feminine wellness. I have seen firsthand the transformative impact these treatments can have. From non-invasive rejuvenation procedures to surgical interventions, the V Suite provides personalized solutions to enhance both the physical and emotional well-being of our patients.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Does your office provide concierge services? For instance, if an out-of-town client books services/treatments, are you able to help arrange hotel/transportation etc.?

Absolutely, we provide comprehensive concierge services for our clients, including those from out of town. Our state-of-the-art recovery suites located upstairs in our building offer a comfortable and modern space designed specifically for recovery needs. Equipped with adjustable beds and chairs, full laundry facilities, restrooms, and a kitchen, our recovery suites ensure that our patients have everything they need for a comfortable and restful stay during their treatment journey. It's the perfect solution for out-of-town patients looking for convenience and comfort during their visit to our office.

What skin care products do you carry, and how much emphasis do you place on daily care of the skin?

At our practice, we prioritize comprehensive skincare as the cornerstone of our approach. Brands like ZO Skin Health, AnteAge MD, BioJuve, and Dermaviduals are integral to our skincare product offerings. We believe in addressing any underlying skin concerns, such as active acne, before proceeding with other treatments like fillers. It's essential to establish a healthy foundation.

Can you share your thoughts on the importance of a healthy lifestyle in maintaining one’s appearance?

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is really important for overall well-being and also for preserving one's appearance. A healthy lifestyle encompasses regular exercise, a balanced diet rich in nutrients, hydration, adequate sleep, and stress management. These habits contribute to radiant skin, strong hair and nails, and a youthful complexion. Exercise improves circulation, which promotes a healthy glow and aids in toxin removal. A nutrient-rich diet provides essential vitamins and minerals that support collagen production, skin elasticity, and cell regeneration. Hydration keeps the skin plump and hydrated, while proper sleep allows for cellular repair and regeneration, combating signs of aging. Additionally, managing stress levels is crucial as chronic stress can lead to premature aging and skin issues.

Photos courtesy of Dr. Usha Rajagopal, unless where noted

Fran Endicott Miller

Fran Endicott Miller is a luxury focused freelance feature and travel writer for a variety of lifestyle publications and websites, editor-at-large for, senior contributor to Napa Valley Life Magazine, and a California editor for luxury travel concierge service Essentialist, specializing in the Napa Valley. Prior to her journalism career she held positions in the fields of politics, te...(Read More)

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