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Pandemic weight gain, Zoom driving people to the surgeon

Doctors in the US are witnessing a boom in patients looking for tummy tucks, face lifts and fillers

Plastic surgeon Michael Somenek stands next to his patient Hudson Young, 52, who had lower face and neck lift, an upper and lower eyelid surgery and laser resurfacing done in October to improve his appearance, driven by the increase in video calls. (AFP)

As more people get back to the office and restaurants reopen in the US, tummy tucks and liposuction are poised for a comeback.

In a national survey of 1,000 women, one in 10 indicated they are more interested in cosmetic plastic surgery or non-surgical procedures now than before the pandemic, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Almost one quarter of respondents who had a procedure in the past said they would like additional work done, reports Bloomberg.

“The pandemic isn’t over, but, thanks to vaccines, a new normal is starting to define itself, and some surgeons’ offices that were closed or offered only limited services within the last year are seeing higher demand,” said plastic surgeon Lynn Jeffers, chief medical officer at St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital with a private practice in Ventura County, California.

Last year, the Bloomberg report states, plastic surgeons saw a rush in facial procedures as Zoom calls became more popular. Now consumers want to combat weight gained during the pandemic with tummy tucks and liposuction, the survey shows. Patients, who typically are women in the vast majority of the procedures, can also take advantage of discreet recovery at home amid social distancing brought about by the pandemic, surgeons said.

Overall, cosmetic surgeries were down 14% to 2.3 million in 2020 compared with a year earlier, according to ASPS data. Very few procedures saw an increase, with two notable exceptions: buttock implants, with a 22% jump, and pectoral implants, up 5%.

Data on reconstructive surgery underscored another pandemic trend after pet ownership rocketed during the shutdowns: Dog-bite repair procedures rose 22%.

Among minimally-invasive procedures last year, injections of Botox remained the most popular for the 18th year in a row. At 4.4 million, their number was down 13% from more than 5 million in 2019. For perspective, fewer than 800,000 injections were done back in 2000.

Soft tissue fillers, laser skin resurfacing, chemical peels, and intense pulsed light treatments, used to remove wrinkles, age spots or unwanted hair, rounded the top five for minimally-invasive treatments last year, the report states.

A similar trend can be witnessed in India. In the past one year, cosmetic surgeons have reported a rise in people approaching them for non-surgical procedures to enhance looks (see One Instagram face, please)

“We saw a kind of boom in a number of things, a kind of Zoom effect, where you saw people looking at themselves more critically, looking at their face,” said James Economides, a plastic surgeon at the Advanced Plastic Surgery Center in the Washington, D.C., area in Virginia.

As for this year, there’s a two-pronged effect, Economides said. “People are still teleworking so we’re continuing to see people still get the procedures that they’ve been putting off, but we’re reopening, people are trying to kind of get ready for the reemergence into the world.”

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