Chalk it up to empty social calendars or maybe too much comfort food during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whatever the reasons, cosmetic surgery and rejuvenation clinics have never been busier.
If you’ve been thinking about a procedure for yourself, you’ll want to consider the advice offered by a few plastic surgeons practicing in the Coachella Valley.
First, be ready for your initial consultation. “I want to know what is troubling [my clients],” says Dr. Harry Marshak, a board-certified ophthalmologist and plastic and reconstructive surgeon in Palm Desert who specializes in upper and lower eye procedures. “People will say ‘Oh, I don’t like my eyelids,’ but I need them to be more specific. What exactly do they not like? What do they want them to look like? That’s a good starting point, and then I can tell them what’s possible.”
Deciding on a procedure is only the beginning. There are more questions to ask your chosen practitioner. “Find out how long they’ve been doing this,” says Dr. Mo Zakhireh, a board-certified plastic surgeon and owner of The Cosmetic Surgery Institute in Palm Desert. “How many of a particular procedure do they perform each year and what is the most common complication? And, if there is a complication, how is it handled?”
Once you have faith in a doctor’s credentials, consider factors such as empathy and compassion — qualities that strengthen the doctor–patient relationship. “Not only the doctor,” Zakhireh intones, “but also the supporting staff. Every team member should be a patient advocate. We all help the patient along their journey.”
A trend among patients over the past decade has been a desire for faster procedures requiring less downtime. However, the pandemic seems to have changed the landscape. “Since people have had more time on their hands and nowhere to go, bigger, more involved procedures have come back into vogue,” says Dr. Mark Sofonio, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Rancho Mirage.
In this climate, even people who have never considered a rejuvenation procedure have opened to the idea. Demand has surged. Botox and dermal fillers remain the most popular nonsurgical treatment, and a new, longer-lasting Botox is on the horizon.
Innovative laser and ultrasonic technologies capable of tightening skin are also gaining traction. Zakhireh notes two — Morpheus8 and Renuvion — that his practice has vetted and used with great success. “We are seeing wonderful results with reduced reliance on more invasive procedures.” Meanwhile, liposuction has seen a big uptick, possibly due to weight gain during the pandemic.
While degrees of invasiveness vary among procedures, one factor is consistent among all: patience. “A minimum of three months before they see the final result,” Marshak tells patients. “Healing takes time, and it’s different for each person. Especially if people are older, it takes longer.”
Zakhireh suggests many patients do not take recovery from cosmetic surgery seriously enough. “They think they can get back to their normal routine of going to work, the gym, or driving their kids to activities within one to two weeks,” he says. Often, patients want immediate gratification, and some become frustrated or even depressed. Once again, patience is key.
Zakhireh’s practice advises patients to also display reverence to Mother Nature’s healing powers. “In a post-surgical environment, the body needs nutrition when it’s trying to rebuild,” he says. The prevalence of lifestyle diets such as low carb, keto diet, paleo, and any variance of fasting to maintain weight can actually interfere with the healing process following a surgical procedure. A body cannot be denied the carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals, fresh fruits, and vegetables it requires to effectively heal.
It’s hard to predict if or when the trend favoring larger, more invasive cosmetic surgery procedures requiring more downtime will end. Sofonio thinks it will recede in lockstep with the pandemic. Of course, even that’s hard to predict. At least one thing is certain: The popularity, effectiveness, and increasing ingenuity of cosmetic surgery and rejuvenation procedures are destined to continue.