The pandemic has brought a new look to social norms – and, in some cases, to ourselves
In the past year-plus of the coronavirus pandemic, we seem to have adopted one new normal after another. Wearing masks and ubiquitous Zoom meetings have changed the way people relate to each other.
And in some instances, it has altered the way people see themselves – specifically with a more critical eye – and they’re willing to undergo plastic surgery or noninvasive procedures to change their look.
While the prevalence of social media started an increase in plastic surgeries and noninvasive procedures, says Dr. Maria Lima, assistant professor of Surgery for the Section of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Augusta University, the trend has continued with the pandemic Zoom Boom.
She attributes the increase in cosmetic procedures to a combination factors.
“People are spending a lot of time on their computers or cell phones, and they start looking at themselves and other people. Their nose and eyebrows look distorted from a closeup distance. They also have more time to think about what to do,” Lima says.
She also says that cosmetic procedures have become an escape valve for some people and that stimulus checks give them disposal income to spend on the procedures.
“People have been frustrated and unhappy that they can’t go anywhere,” says Lima. “The stimulus checks are not enough to change people’s lifestyles, but they are enough to get a procedure.”
Dr. Michael Tarakji of Augusta Plastic Surgery has seen similar trends with his patients.
“When restrictions started easing up around June, we saw an increase,” he says. “It continued throughout the rest of the summer, and especially in the fall and winter. Those numbers were down initially until it was safe to get back.”
People who were working remotely had the time to get procedures done, says Tarakji, and they could recover at home.
“Instead of spending money on travel or going out to eat, people had the chance to do something they had wanted to do for a while,” he adds.
The physicians have found that the most popular cosmetic plastic surgeries have been body contouring procedures such as 360 liposuction, which sculpts the front and back of the body; breast augmentation; and tummy tucks. Botox injections and other fillers have been the most requested noninvasive procedures.
While most of their patients are women, particularly for cosmetic procedures, an increasing number of men are undergoing plastic surgery as well. However, Tarakji says, reconstructive plastic surgery does not favor one gender or the other.
Another trend Lima has seen is that the scheduling of procedures has changed. “They used to happen during winter or summer breaks,” she says. “Now, people can do it any time and recover at home.”
She expects some habits that we have formed during the pandemic to remain, and as a result, people likely will continue to have more cosmetic and reconstructive procedures.
“We use technology more and more,” says Lima. “I think virtual meetings are going to stay.”
The physicians caution patients to do their research and to go to a certified plastic surgeon, and they stress that procedures have been performed under safety guidelines with measures such as covid testing and social distancing in place.
“As long as it’s safe to continue doing procedures, the economy is good and people have extra money to spend, people will continue to get these procedures done,” Tarakji says.