- A survey done by a plastic surgeons organization indicates there is a sharp increase in cosmetic procedures as the COVID-19 pandemic eases.
- The survey reports that a significant portion of that demand is being driven by women between the ages of 31 and 45.
- Experts say a major motivation appears to be how people feel they look on computer screens during virtual meetings.
- They add that people are also seeking ways to administer self-care after two years of pandemic restrictions.
More people in the United States are reportedly investing in cosmetic procedures as the COVID-19 pandemic eases.
A national survey by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that three-fourths of cosmetic-focused plastic surgery clinics that responded to the survey have seen an increase in business compared to pre-pandemic levels with almost 30 percent saying their business has doubled.
“With COVID, we prepared for the worst. But when we were able to reopen our office, we were pleasantly surprised with the incredible surge of demand for our cosmetic services, both surgical and noninvasive,” Dr. Bob Basu, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Houston and board vice president of finance of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, said in a press release.
“COVID changed everything. No one was traveling, vacations got canceled,” Basu added. “So I think a lot of families and patients had a lot more disposable income. And so, they found that this is the right time for them to do a cosmetic plastic surgery procedure.”
The survey identified women aged between 31 and 45 as the most likely to seek cosmetic procedures. Popular procedures included tummy tucks, liposuction, and breast augmentation.
Dr. Julie C Holding, a board-certified plastic surgeon and chief resident cosmetic clinic co-Director for the Plastic Surgery Department at The University of Kansas Health System, said this is a trend she has seen among her clientele.
Holding told Healthline that she has seen an increase in demand for fillers, perhaps due to people feeling self-conscious about their facial appearance during online virtual meetings.
“Video platforms for work and school with poor camera angles and less than ideal lighting can lead to unflattering images and accentuated shadows,” Holding said. “Everyone knows that terrible feeling when they turn on their phone camera and it’s pointed at you instead of the subject. Then, adding the ‘make me look better’ filters also create an aesthetic that is in contrast to our own beauty.”
“It made many women want to look more like a certain type of aesthetic: eye shape, eye angles, lip plumpness, less tired under eye circles/bags, more curves like hour-glass shape with breast augmentation (with patient’s own fat or implants), tapered liposuction waist and rounder buttocks (Brazilian butt lift). I saw an increase in men as well seeking eye lifts and liposuction,” Holding noted.
Plastic surgeons polled as part of the survey reported numerous reasons behind the increased demand from people for cosmetic procedures.
About 40 percent reported clients said they would pay anything to feel good about themselves and more confident after the pandemic.
Another 42 percent of surgeons polled said their clients had reallocated travel funds that weren’t used during the pandemic toward cosmetic procedures.
Holding said for some people investing in themselves through cosmetic procedures has also been a form of self-care.
“COVID was and is a very challenging time. Quarantine forced an inward, reflective period,” she said. “People were keeping to themselves and trying to find something to feel good about. I saw a huge spike in weight loss and weight gain patients seeking body contouring, fillers, skincare consultations, and botulinum toxins. It was a new form of self-care patients were pursuing to feel good about themselves and more confident overall.”
Other reasons cited in the survey included shifting attitudes about living in the moment rather than postponing things as well as remote work options making recovery from procedures less troublesome.
Dr. Graham Offer, a plastic, reconstructive and cosmetic surgeon and spokesperson for the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons says similar trends are being seen in the United Kingdom.
“I have seen a big increase in facial stuff over the last year since lockdown,” he told Healthline.
“Aesthetic surgery can make a huge difference both from a physical quality of life point of view from patients and from a psychological point of view,” Offer said. “And it can be very positive when it’s done in a controlled and ethical manner with lots of consideration as to the risks associated with it and balancing with the benefits.”
There are some people who may be advised against cosmetic procedures.
The experts who spoke with Healthline say this may include those with complex medical issues that may complicate recovery.
Health factors that may lead to complications in recovery include poorly controlled diabetes, immunosuppressing drugs, transplant recipients, nicotine use, and having a higher weight or body mass index.
As for whether cosmetic procedures are worth it, experts say that really comes down to the individual.
“Patients have to weigh the balance of being unhappy with their appearance with the process and discomfort of a procedure (surgery, injections, lasers), expected results, including allowing time to recover, and being willing to take the risks,” Holding said.
“That being said, from a surgeon standpoint, as long as the person is an appropriate candidate medically, has realistic expectations, and appropriate post-op or post-procedure help, then it’s up to the patient whether or not they would like to proceed. Consultation with a plastic surgeon (board certified or eligible) can help make that determination,” she said.