Zooming in on appearance: Why cosmetic surgery is popular during the pandemic

Doctor with stethoscope
Valley News - Health

LA JOLLA – Cosmetic surgery was on an upward trend for several years before the pandemic, and the outbreak of the coronavirus hasn’t hurt its popularity.

Since the lifting of lockdown and shelter-in-place orders across the country, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons has reported an increased demand in patients considering cosmetic enhancements. One factor driving the interest: People have had extra time to dwell on their physical dissatisfactions and also to actually address them, Dr. Scott Miller, a cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon in La Jolla, said.

“Working from home, being seen a lot (and seeing themselves) via company video conferences, and having mask-wearing bring increased focus to certain facial features, I think a lot of people have had a tremendous amount of time to be super-critical of themselves,” Miller said. “They pick up on things they want to improve about their appearance.

“With people being cooped for a long time, across the country you are seeing pent-up demand. We have seen an increase in consultations and surgeries across the board. In particular, people seem to be noticing their necks and jowls. In many cases, they bring in screenshots from their Zoom calls,” he said.

Miller said there are four popular types of cosmetic procedures people are having done during the pandemic.

Facial rejuvenation

With considerably more face time required as companies work remotely, facelifts, neck lifts, eyelid and brow lifts are keeping cosmetic surgeons busy.

“On Zoom with your boss and co-workers, you can’t help but stare at your face, neck and crow’s feet,” Miller said. “And with people wearing masks in public, there’s no better time to hide the neck and lower face during the healing process from cosmetic surgery. That’s probably why we’re doing more lower-face and neck lifts than ever before.”

Body contouring

Liposuction, in which excess fat is removed to contour the body, is annually one of the most frequent cosmetic procedures. It and abdominoplasty – better known as a “tummy tuck” – ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, in the recent ASPS survey.

“Being overweight is an epidemic in our country, and sitting around at home quite a bit now, people are more aware of it and tired of it,” Miller said. “The body contouring aspect of cosmetic surgery has boomed due to dissatisfaction with diet- and exercise-resistant figure faults. Also, there is newfound time to address this situation definitively with safe, state-of-the-art procedures.”

Lip injections

Fillers like Juvéderm are as popular as ever, despite masks being pervasive and supposedly lessening one’s concern with how their lips look.

“You’d think due to face coverings extending from the nose to the mouth that people would only be concerned about their eye areas,” Miller said. “While they are noticing and seeking treatment for their eyes more because of mask-wearing in public, many people are on Zoom, where they are maskless and noticing their lips and jaw lines in full high definition. They definitely get passionate about filling and shaping them. And again, with masks, you can cover up any swelling and bruising from lip injections.”

Breast augmentation and reduction 

The ASPS said breast augmentations were the most common cosmetic surgery procedure in 2019, and while conducting telemedicine appointments during lockdown, surgeons received many requests for both breast augmentation and breast reduction.

“Breast improvement consults – enlargement, reduction and reshaping – can be easily initiated by taking all the measurements and photographs from the patient’s home,” Miller said. “During the video consultation, while looking at the photographs, doctors can explain how the procedures are done and what the post-up situation will be.

“More people want to be the best version of themselves. The pandemic has caused people to think more about what they want out of life and how they want to live it, and many are deciding now is the time to make changes they’ve long wanted,” Miller said.

Dr. Scott Miller is a board-certified cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon and the founder of Miller Cosmetic Surgery Center. He earned his medical degree from the University of California Irvine’s College of Medicine and performed his plastic surgery residency at the University of California San Diego’s School of Medicine. For more information, visit http://www.MillerCosmeticSurgery.com.