As soon as Woodbury, NY oculoplastic surgeon David A. Schlessinger, MD was able to reopen his office and given the green light to start performing elective surgeries again, he immediately saw what he calls “a lot of pent-up demand for both surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures” and points to one specific COVID era–related trend.
“Since the eyes are more prominent when wearing a mask, we have been doing a lot of under-eye fillers,” he says. “It is a quick procedure that almost immediately rejuvenates the eyelids.”
New York dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD says she’s seen it at her practice, too. “So many patients are interested in doing the upper part of their face—not only because it’s what you see right now, but they tell me they’re more comfortable just doing part of the face because they can still keep their lower faces covered with a mask while they’re doing it.”
In addition to a rise in patients wanting fillers and injectables, Dr. Schlessinger has also been doing a lot of traditional blepharoplasty—or eyelift—surgeries as well. “Because many patients have down time and a reduced social schedule right now, these procedures are popular. Patients are also working from home and can return to work a day or two after surgery without fear of being seen during the week-to-ten-days of healing.”
It’s the work-from-home situation that Morristown, NJ plastic surgeon Daniel Schmid, MD credits to an uptick in patient interest in aesthetic treatments overall. “Patients feel it is a good time to recover from surgery since they don’t have to go into the office.”
Likewise, Dr. Schmid has also seen more interest in the eyes, and pegs two other areas that make the “incredibly popular” list right now. “We have definitely seen more people recently who are also more concerned about the face and neck—likely due to more video-chat usage.”
While the interest in eyelift surgery wasn’t too shabby in 2019—according to the Aesthetic Society, it’s was one of the top-five surgical procedures for both men and women and is the most common procedure for the 65-and-up age group overall—Nashville plastic surgeon Daniel Hatef, MD says this summer, it’s of big-time interest for younger patients as well.
Patients feel it is a good time to recover from surgery since they don’t have to go into the office.
“I’m doing a lot more skin-only upper-eyelid blepharoplasties in younger patients—some as young as 25,” he says, and estimates that he performs the surgery three-to-four times per week now. “Because of social media and selfies, people are becoming more aware of the way their eyelids look. When women don’t have a crisp crease and smooth upper eyelids they want to try to achieve that. We call it a ‘microbleph,’ because it’s just removing skin and we keep the scar a bit shorter than we would in a more aged eyelid rejuvenation. Patients absolutely love it because they can do it on Monday and have their sutures out by Thursday and it is a very quick recovery.”
Chatham, NJ oculoplastic surgeon Baljeet K. Purewal, MD says she also often hears from patients post-eyelift surgery that they were “surprised at how painless the recovery was” and, right now, she’s seeing an equally increased interest in blepharoplasty and under-eye fillers.
“It really just depends on what the underlying issue is that is motivating our patients, but we have noticed they are more resolute to resolve it. We are definitely seeing a higher demand for surgery because many patients who are working from home or not as busy now are less concerned about downtime.”
Besides the work-from-home, recover-at-home factor, Berkeley Heights, NJ plastic surgeon Reza Momeni, MD—who says he’s seen a rise in both surgical and nonsurgical cosmetic work in the last few weeks—has spent a lot of time thinking about why the surge and why now, and he’s concluded there are several “complex” forces at play.
“At first, it was counterintuitive and unexpected, but it now makes sense. There are macro forces at work: With little ability to spend on other discretionary categories such as restaurants, luxury purchases and travel, many patients are reallocating their household budgets and increasing what they would have otherwise spent on our services.”
While he contends video-work channels like Zoom definitely cause people to focus on their physical appearance, with social isolation and lockdowns, he also sees patients spending more time “mentally focusing on themselves and their own self-improvement. This includes our services.”
And, although people are nervous about virus exposure, many realize that top medical facilities have put down a great job of creating a safe environment for care, Dr. Momeni says. “We’ve communicated heavily about our safety and sanitizing protocols and changed our workflows to ensure patients are not at undue risk. That confidence is a critical underpinning basis of the demand surge.”
“Despite all that is going on, Americans are practical and hopeful. They realize pandemics are not new to humanity, and there is light at the end of the tunnel. While we all hope to get through this together as fast as possible, the getting through part is not in doubt. In other words, this too shall pass.”
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