Lip fillers, face-lifts and skin resurfacing.
Nonstop video calls during the COVID-19 pandemic on platforms like Zoom and more time spent at home have triggered a surge in interest in cosmetic surgery, as people seek ways of looking younger and fresher on screens.
Elite Aesthetics, a MedSpa in Needham, Mass., said that it has seen a 20% increase in appointments booked from last year.
“We’ve found that patients are seeking out treatments, such as injectables, now more than ever. With offices going virtual and Zoom meetings becoming part of regular routines, people are seeing much more of their own reflection every day,” Dr. Joelle Lieman, founder of Elite Aesthetics, told MarketWatch.
“Before the pandemic, it was irregular to look at your reflection as often as we are now,” Lieman added.
A recent study published in the journal Facial Plastic Surgery & Aesthetic Medicine noted a surge in patients citing their appearance on Zoom
as a reason to seek care. Noses and wrinkles seem to be the most common complaints generated by this phenomenon, which the authors of the research dubbed “Zoom Dysmorphia.”
They also noted an increase in Google search trends during the pandemic for the terms acne and hair loss. The authors attributed this trend to the association of acne and hair loss with anxiety and depression, common psychological conditions during quarantine.
“We suspect the trend may also arise from people constantly seeing themselves on video and becoming more aware of their appearance,” wrote Dr. Arianne Shadi Kourosh of Massachusetts General Hospital, one of the authors of the article.
The rise in cosmetic surgery is taking place on both sides of the Atlantic, as the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons said doctors had seen a “massive upswing” — more than 100% — in demand for virtual consultations during lockdown.
At the Cadogan Clinic in central London, general anesthetic procedures doubled in July and August and there was an increase of 26% in local anesthetic procedures during the two summer months, compared with the same period a year earlier.
Bryan Mayou, medical director of the Cadogan Clinic, said that the rise in treatments was due to several factors, including a backlog of procedures once lockdown restrictions began to ease, the increased privacy of working from home for discreet recovery, and more disposable income as people spent less money on holidays or going out during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The increased exposure to videoconferencing software — the constant exposure to one’s own appearance — has also been a driver for the post-lockdown increase in procedures,” Mayou said.
Cadogan Clinic said the biggest increase was in facial surgery, which saw a 10-fold increase in ear procedures, a 188% rise in fat transfer/face-lift procedures and a 78% increase in rhinoplasties.
Gerard Lambe, a cosmetic surgeon at Reflect Clinic in Manchester, England, and a member of the trade group BAAPS, said he had seen a spike in the number of people calling immediately after lockdown restrictions were lifted in May.
“In a typical year, the volume tends to peak in January as people start the new year with new intentions. The surge we saw in June and July was bigger than that peak as people wanted to refresh themselves for videoconferencing as well as knowing that they have the time to recover at home,” Lambe said.
He said there was an increasing number of people asking for work to be done on eye bags as well as other areas including breasts and tummy tucks.
In September, the rise in demand for noninvasive facial procedures prompted BAAPS to warn the public not to fall prey to unethical marketing tactics that attempt to lure them into “panic buying” plastic surgery as a post-lockdown quick fix.
Mary O’Brien, president of BAAPS, said surgery isn’t a “pandemic pick-me-up.”
“As the world becomes increasingly virtual in this unusual time, we are being proactive in addressing the challenges that patients face to make sure that high standards are maintained in the delivery of care and information,” O’Brien cautioned.
“It’s that reality of surgery and aftercare that should not be lost in a virtual world,” she added.