The Pandemic’s Impact on Plastic Surgery
COVID-19 has altered every imaginable aspect of our lives. Social interactions, business practices, and even personal care have taken on new and surprising colors. Nowadays, we’re more likely to see our friends over a screen than we are to enjoy them in person. The same goes for our dearest family members. Everything that we previously took for granted has become out-of-reach.
As is the case with most professionals, facial plastic surgeons have been impacted by the pandemic. For a time, some were even restricted from doing their usual work.
However, COVID-19 has presented a silver lining: plastic surgeons have seen no decline in demand for cosmetic procedures. In fact, according to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery’s (AAFPRS) 2020 member survey, 70% of AAFPRS member respondents reported an increase in bookings. Nine out of ten facial plastic surgeons also noted an increase of more than ten percent. Moreover, these consultations were for some of the most invasive and dramatic procedures that aesthetic surgery has to offer. These include eyelifts, rhinoplasties, neck lifts, and facelifts.
“It was shocking to see such a massive surge in bookings during the height of the pandemic,” says Dr. Jacono. “It was clear to me that my patients were taking charge of their social isolation and getting the procedures they had always wanted but didn’t have the time to undergo.”
The Zoom Effect
This increase in demand is due at least in part to what the AAFPRS dubs the “Zoom Effect.”
“Because so many more people are working remotely now than ever before—and are using video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Skype—they’re more time staring at themselves,” says Dr. Jacono. “This forces us to view ourselves in new and often unflattering ways. It becomes impossible not to hyper-fixate on imperfections that we wouldn’t otherwise notice in everyday life. To make matters worse, poor in-room lighting and awkward camera angles accentuate and distort certain facial features.”
Another intriguing reason that facial plastic surgery has become more popular is the rise of telemedicine: patients speaking to their doctors with tablets, smartphones, and home computers. Thanks to these convenient devices, clients are able to explore the world of elective procedures from the comfort of their own homes. There is no need for the added anxiety of visiting a doctor’s office.
If these changes weren’t enough, 96% of the surveyed AAFPRS members said that not having to miss work during recovery served as a significant influence on patients’ decision to undergo plastic surgery.
“Because COVID-19 has rendered going into the office obsolete, people aren’t as worried about hiding the immediate results of surgery,” continues Dr. Jacono. “During the worst of the pandemic, so many of my patients explained that they had previously been afraid to get cosmetic surgery. They were worried about how their peers and coworkers would react. In a way, the pandemic was a blessing for their self-confidence.”
Spending More on Looking Better
Travel, shopping, and eating out were among COVID’s first economic victims. In the wake of worldwide shutdowns, countless small and large businesses closed their doors to the public, leaving millions without access to simple pleasures.
On the bright side, this has left some people with thicker wallets.
“In the last two years, almost all of my working patients have had significantly reduced expenditures,” says Dr. Jacono. “They’re not spending as much money as they normally would on things like food, clothing, and vacations. Instead, they’re investing in self-care.”
This extra discretionary income, coupled with less time out in public, has created the perfect opportunity for people to undergo elective cosmetic surgery. According to the AAFPRS, while the demand for cosmetic surgical procedures has increased during the pandemic, the demand for temporary solutions, like dermal fillers, has actually decreased.
“This fall in dermal filler demand is due to the awareness that you can’t knock more than four or five years off your appearance with filler,” says Dr. Jacono. “Discerning patients are seeking more permanent solutions to facial aging, and the pandemic has offered an under-the-radar recovery period for surgery.”
Ultimately, it’s reassuring that these shifts are occurring right now. Why wait to take the surgical plunge when this is the perfect time to look your best?