The Secret Surgery People Are Getting That Doesn’t Show on Zoom

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The Secret Surgery People Are Getting That Doesn’t Show on Zoom featured image
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At Pasadena, CA plastic surgeon Lily Lee, MD’s office, a bit of a reunion is currently taking place. 

“Many people who consulted with me one, two, three or even four years ago are coming back and saying that they have recovery time now and want to get a tummy tuck. The numbers are way up.”

While Dr. Lee recognizes that every plastic surgeon has different volumes, she says she is easily doing one tummy tuck—otherwise known as an abdominoplasty—procedure once a week now. Previously, she estimates, it was approximately one a month.

“I think what is the most interesting to me is that, while new consults for tummy tucks are up, many of the cases I have been doing are from people who came in for consults previously. I think because people are taking meetings over Zoom now rather than in person, it is easier to hide during the recovery process. Plus, because of the nature of Zoom calls, patients can hide almost anything below the clavicle.”

Glen Burnie, MD plastic surgeon Adam Summers, MD says consultations are also climbing at his practice—and it was something that was happening, albeit virtually, even during the state-mandated shutdown. 

“There seems to be a lot of pent-up demand for all types of procedures, including tummy tucks,” he says. “I also get the impression that people with disposable income who would otherwise have gone on vacations are now focused on investing in self-improvement, including elective surgery. Many people have also told me that now is a good time for them to have a procedure that requires downtime because they are being required to work from home.”

Recovery Strategy
Despite tummy tucks being one of the top-five surgeries for both men and women performed by plastic surgeons last year (to the tune of 140,000-plus procedures, according to the most recent Aesthetic Society statistics), it’s the recovery time that New York plastic surgeon Daniel Y. Maman, MD says is typically the biggest deterrent for patients interested in getting one. 

“However, in this COVID-era, women have been enthusiastic in seeking surgery because the normal constraints of having to shuttle the kids back and forth to school, sports and other extracurricular activities are nonexistent,” he says. “This is a perfect time for surgery.”

Although recovery is different depending on the extent of the tummy tuck and the individual, Dr. Lee typically tells patients that, with a full tummy tuck—for someone who has some diastasis from pregnancy and requires tightening of the abdominal wall and some liposuction—they should anticipate two-to-four weeks of downtime. 

“That’s not to say that they will be completely handicapped for the entire time, but I want to set their expectation correctly that it may not be for a month before they are feeling like themselves again,” she explains. “The beauty of doing this during this time of social-distancing is that people can most definitely take Zoom meetings, answer emails and phone calls within a couple of days after the procedure.”

The YOLO Effect
Vero Beach, FL plastic surgeon Alan J. Durkin, MD has seen, what he describes, as “remarkable growth” in body-contouring across the board.

“After our reopening, we saw a 35-percent increase in our body-contouring cases,” he says. “Of that increase, the overwhelming majority of patients are requesting tummy tucks.”

Dr. Durkin theorizes that “the pandemic has affected different people in different ways”—and that includes how they view aesthetic surgery.

“What we are seeing is a newly motivated, and well-informed consumer group showing up and saying, ‘This is the time.’ I think YOLO—You Only Live Once—is currently a prevailing trend in aesthetic plastic surgery, especially for post-pregnancy women seeking tummy tucks. We have seen a huge uptick with this procedure, and I will not be surprised if it continues on after life normalizes.”

Likewise, Torrance, CA plastic surgeon Linda L. Swanson, MD says she’s seen an increased interest in abdominoplasty—and her patients are often combining it with a breast lift, breast reduction or breast augmentation.

“With people not traveling and many working from home, now is a perfect time for many patients to have surgery!”

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