Why plastic surgery is booming during Covid

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The impact of the pandemic on the world of marketing has had many reverberations. Who wins and who loses in the time of Covid is often surprising.

For starters, masks have had many unanticipated effects. Celebrities must be loving it. They can walk down the street and not be besieged with selfie and autograph requests. Welcome anonymity. That anonymity is also welcomed by criminals these days as armed robberies are up.

Back in the Depression era, an interesting phenomenon happened: Cosmetic sales climbed while people were in bread lines. That’s when the marketing industry realized people will treat themselves to small indulgences in difficult economic times. Leonard Lauder, ex-CEO of the cosmetic firm Estée Lauder, coined the term “Lipstick Index” after 9/11. Defined – it means an increase in lipstick sales indicates an oncoming recession or a lowering of consumer confidence.

But lipstick sales have plummeted by more than 50 per cent in this pandemic – contrary to the Lipstick Index. The reason: Masks.

The sales of lipstick dropped because the need for lipstick dropped. Masks hide lips. But if lipstick sales plummeted, what cosmetic do you think soared because of masks? Eye makeup.

In a masked world, we are all now looking people directly in the eye to make a connection, to determine trust or intent or to try and gauge how someone is really doing.

While eye makeup sales have jumped, one other personal care item has drastically slumped: Deodorant.

With social distancing in effect and socializing at an all-time low, companies like Unilever and P&G are seeing huge declines in the underarm business.

While lipstick and deodorant sales are falling, something else is going up.

It’s a result of Zoom. Almost none of us had even heard of Zoom prior to the pandemic – then suddenly – there was a Zoom Boom. Everybody was on Zoom for business meetings or for pleasure when connecting with friends and family. As Isaac Newton’s third law states – for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

With everyone on Zoom, people were suddenly seeing their own faces front and centre on Zoom screens. As a rule, we don’t see ourselves while conversing with others. Zoom has changed all that. And a lot of people didn’t like what they saw.

Droopy faces. Lines and wrinkles. Many people were more bothered by those lines on video than in real life. That phenomenon triggered a boom in plastic surgery. Injectable procedures like Botox and fillers are up 90 per cent.

Plastic surgeons are reporting an unprecedented number of requests for procedures. One surgeon in Cincinnati has doubled his days in the operating room and had to drastically extend his hours. Another in Australia reported his business is up 200 per cent and he had to double his staff. Wrinkles, jawlines and necks are the focus because of the camera angles on Zoom.

Another reason many people are choosing to have plastic surgery done during this pandemic is because the post-operative swelling is conveniently hidden by masks. Plus, the average of two-to-four weeks of recovery time required after face lifts is easily handled now that we are all working from home. It’s somewhat surprising people would choose to have surgery when Covid numbers are still on the rise. But here’s the revealing stat: In the initial consultations with surgeons, 9 out of 10 people specifically said they noticed their wrinkles on Zoom.


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Under the Influence is recorded in the Terstream Mobile Recording studio, a 1969 Airstream trailer that’s been restored and transformed into a studio on wheels. So host Terry O’Reilly can record the show wherever he goes.

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Terry O’Reilly leaning against his 1969 Airstream trailer turned mobile recording studio a listener dubbed the “Terstream.” (Terry O’Reilly)





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