At a time when many businesses and even medical fields are struggling due to an economy wracked by a worldwide pandemic, cosmetic surgery has bucked the trend with some offices experiencing revenue increases over last year. In the middle of March, major cities such as Los Angeles and New York forced non-essential businesses such as cosmetic surgery centers to shutter as Covid-19 spread throughout the country. Almost as soon as they reopened nearly three months later, however, anxious patients rapidly filled up their calendars. It seems that people are only too eager to use these prolonged homestays to upgrade their appearance.
As Covid-19 has spread throughout the country, many companies are using Zoom and other video conferencing apps to hold meetings and conduct business. One of the more unexpected offshoots of this shift to working from home is that people are viewing themselves on computers and phone screens much more often. Unfortunately, the unflattering, forward-facing camera on a laptop isn’t doing people’s self-esteem any favors. As a result, they are also seeing every wrinkle and sign of aging such as bags under their eyes or fullness under the jawline.
One plastic surgeon described a patient who was content with Botox and dermal fillers until she saw herself on a bunch of Zoom calls. Soon afterwards, she underwent a face and neck lift. Clearly, people are seeing themselves differently, and they don’t like what they’re seeing.
An upside to the boom in video conferencing technology is that surgeons can now consult with patients without an office visit. A recent study from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons found that 68% of doctors are seeing patients virtually for both pre- and post-operative appointments because of COVID-19.
Before the pandemic, the trend in cosmetic surgery was towards noninvasive or minimally invasive procedures such as Botox injections, skin tightening, and body contouring. However, the ability to quarantine without anybody noticing has increased the appeal of more invasive surgery such as face lifts and rhinoplasty.
With the added downtime, many women are going in for “mommy makeovers,” industry lingo for a tummy tuck, a breast lift and enhancement. For many moms, this is the perfect time to get some work done, especially if they have a spouse at home who can help with childcare while they recover. And while they are out running errands, they can easily hide behind a face mask in Covid times without arousing any suspicion.
Although legions of people are struggling to get by on unemployment and stimulus checks, some people who are working from home have found themselves with a surplus of cash that normally went towards vacations or dining out. Instead, they are using the extra cash to improve their appearance in ways they never had the either the time or money to do previously. With this kind of disposable income floating around, many offices have seen significant jumps in revenue. For instance, a surgeon in New York City who runs a network of clinics for body contouring reported a 20% increase in July over the same time last year.
Many surgeons report that they are getting lots of calls from people who spent the first part of the pandemic in lockdown bingeing on junk food. Some people even refer to it as the “quarantine 15.” To make matters worse, gyms in many states still remain shut. Subsequently, people have fewer options for staying in shape. Indeed, one surgeon mentioned a patient that came in for a breast enhancement and added in liposuction during the same visit.
A boom in cosmetic surgery might seem like an anomaly at a time when our economy is suffering from the deepest contraction in gross domestic product in modern history, not to mention an unemployment rate that climbed as high as 14.7%. This trend, however, shows no sign of ebbing anytime soon. In fact, some surgeons are already booking procedures for the holiday season.
As long as a segment of the population has more income to indulge in cosmetic surgery instead of vacations or fine dining, procedures like botox, facelifts, liposuction, and body contouring will continue to fill up surgeons’ schedules for the rest of this year and possibly well into 2021.