by Jolene Edgar www.allure.com
Even the most serious and widespread health crisis of our time hasn’t slowed the demand for injectables and plastic surgery procedures. We asked dermatologists and plastic surgeons why patients continue to seek elective cosmetic treatments amid the ongoing threat of Covid-19.
“When we opened back up in May, people were beating down the doors to get in,” says DiAnne Davis, a board-certified dermatologist in Dallas, who’s been met with requests for chemical peels, arm liposuction, and cellulite treatments. In Philadelphia, board-certified facial plastic surgeon Jason Bloom, who specializes in rhinoplasty, recently cut short a family trip to the Jersey Shore to address his mounting wait list. “People want surgery so bad right now — it’s crazy,” he says.
Like Bloom, Patrick Sullivan, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Providence, Rhode Island, is booking into 2021, an eclectic mix crowding his calendar — everyone from local politicians and professionals to Hollywood actors seeking surgery far from the paparazzi’s prying lens. In the past few months, he tells me, his schedule has been revised countless times due to borders opening and closing, but his patients — many of whom book surgery on the heels of virtual consultation — are utterly undeterred, flying in from as far as Asia for discreet face- and neck-lifts.
It’s important to acknowledge, before we delve deeper, that this apparent boom is largely anecdotal: individual physicians in certain parts of the country are seeing an increased demand for their services (of this, I have no doubt), but the experts I interviewed aren’t aware of any formal surveys or studies offering credible quantitative evidence of the trend.
Moreover, even though the uptick has been written about ad nauseam across platforms — and certainly seems newsworthy on the surface: Plastic Surgery Booming Amid Pandemic! — when you subtract sensationalism and really drill down, the phenomenon isn’t all that surprising.
“Plastic surgery is, historically, at its busiest during vacation periods — this is when we always see the biggest spike in cosmetic procedures, because people aren’t going into work,” points out Los Angeles board-certified plastic surgeon Jason Roostaeian. While the pandemic hardly qualifies as a vacation, it has, by necessitating work-from-home, unintentionally granted us a glorious stretch for no-one-has-to-know recovery.
Indeed, part of the reason why rhinoplasty specialists like Roostaeian and Bloom are booking so far out is because COVID-19 has restructured college calendars, providing students (who make up a large portion of those who commonly partake in rhinoplasty) with a lengthy Thanksgiving break that will keep them at home (and off the radar) until mid- to late January. Of course, should they venture out while healing, requisite face masks can neatly conceal splints, swelling, and shiners — no questions asked.
WFH, masks, and stalled social lives make it an opportune time to have work done — I get that. Still, when I first began hearing of doctors doubling or tripling their caseloads upon reopening, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was merely the backlog masquerading as a boom. Wouldn’t rescheduling hundreds of patients who had their springtime skin checks, IPLs, and CoolSculptings canceled create an instant influx on its own? Factor in the biannual bookers, who locked in their June appointment last December, along with the juggernaut who were clamoring for Botox throughout quarantine, and yeah — you’ve got some jammed schedules.
But does this throng of people competing for limited time slots — double-booking is a no-no during COVID — constitute an actual elevation in interest for treatments? Is the pandemic — our new normal in the upside-down — somehow whetting our appetites for cosmetic procedures?