A remarkable 96 percent of the AAFPRS members surveyed said that not having to miss work during recovery has served as a significant influence on why people have been getting facial plastic surgery during the pandemic. “There is less hesitation about the post-procedure recovery process now that most patients are working from home and can still work their full-time jobs,” Shafer says. “As a result, many patients are coming in for more invasive procedures that they had been putting off for a while, like cheek-lifts, chin augmentations, and facial liposuction.”
Paul Carniol, a New Jersey-based board-certified facial plastic surgeon and the current president of the AAFPRS, says working from home not only allows patients to avoid missing work but also affords them more privacy. “[Patients] are mainly working from home and therefore have time to recover at home from their procedure, [so] any post-procedure-related swelling or bruising will not be visible to others,” he tells Allure.
That additional privacy is also a welcome byproduct of wearing a mask in public. “Patients have been more willing to pursue plastic surgery procedures, as face masks are helping them camouflage and hide in plain sight,” Shafer says, noting that swelling, stitches, needle marks, and bruising can be covered. Masks are even playing a part in which procedures people are electing, he says. “With the use of face masks, our eyes and brow area are highlighted most, making them the focal point and center of attention when talking with other people.” Because of this, his practice has noticed a sizable increase in cosmetic eye and brow procedures.
Another major factor: “All of our patients who are working have significantly reduced expenditures,” Carniol says.
Moran tells Allure that those who were not significantly affected economically by the pandemic were not spending as much money as usual on things like travel, clothing, and eating out. “For some, the extra discretionary income and available time to avoid being out and about in the public created the perfect opportunity to have elective surgery,” she says.
The numbers reflect that the sense of financial or privacy-enabled freedom to pursue plastic surgery was not dampened by concerns of coronavirus exposure. All of the surgeons Allure spoke to chalk this up to their offices and operating environments’ stringent safety and hygiene practices, many of which were already in place before the pandemic. “Patients that elected plastic surgery in 2020 were comforted by the fact that medical facilities were already well-versed in functioning in sterile environments, which includes excruciatingly detailed procedures and protocols to keep things germ-free,” says AAFPRS member Andrew Jacono, a board-certified facial plastic surgeon in New York City. “So while the world was learning how to adapt to COVID-19 protocols, we were already ahead of the game.”
Decrease in Demand for Dermal Filler
Interestingly, while demand for facial plastic surgery procedures increased, the AAFPRS found that the demand for dermal filler decreased for the first time in years. As with the rise in surgical procedures, there are several theories as to why this happened. While Carniol attributes the decrease to the lower half of people’s faces being covered by masks in public, Moran believes it’s how we see ourselves on camera when we’re not masked that may play the most significant role in the shift.