As lockdown restrictions began to ease this summer, what was your first appointment? Then dentist? The hairdresser? For a certain swathe of society, it was the plastic surgeon. “The demand for all kinds of procedures right now is just unbelievable,” says Dr. Dara Liotta, a Manhattan surgeon who specializes in rhinoplasties. “Before Covid, I was doing about 18 rhinoplasties a month. Now I’m doing more than 30. And whereas it used to be just a rhinoplasty, now people are like, ‘I’m going under anesthesia, let’s do rhinoplasty and a chin implant, or rhinoplasty and upper eyelids, or rhinoplasty and submental liposuction. And can you do lip filler while you’re at it?’ They want to do all the things.”
“There are some procedures that we would not have done at the same appointment before, like a laser treatment and Botox,” says Dr. Kevin Tehrani of New York’s Aristocrat Plastic Surgery. “You can’t do an Ultherapy treatment right after Botox, for example, because it kills the Botox. But now we’ve been planning it so that we can do the Ultherapy first and then the Botox on the same visit, because people want to do everything they can while they’re in.”
While some people's version of beauty hoarding might be filling the fridge with sheet masks, many are loading up on procedures, everywhere from the plastic surgeon to the dermatologist to more budget-friendly medi-spas. “We’ve seen our busiest days on record since our SoHo location reopened, even allowing for limited occupancy and enhanced safety precautions,” says Kate Twist, CEO and co-founder of cosmetic dermatology boutique Ever/Body.
And while Ever/Body practitioners, striving for the most naturalistic results, “don't encourage what we refer to as 'over-participating' in the category,” says Twist, they have found that clients are booking more than one service at a time, or doubling up on trouble spots. “We've found, for example, that there's more interest in receiving [fat-reducing and muscle building treatment] Emsculpt in multiple areas of the body rather than just one.”
Doctors speculate that this do-it-all-now rush can be attributed to perfect storm of circumstances, and it’s not just the result of video-conference-fostered facial-feature insecurities. Botox and filler veterans who watched wrinkles emerge and jaws begin sag during the early months of this year want to ensure that won’t happen again should more lockdowns strike in the fall, and are seeking out longer-lasting, more intensive procedures.
Others are seizing this unique moment when they don’t have to be in an office and can wear a mask in public to load up on nips and tucks that would previously have been difficult to disguise.
“I have patients in really high-profile buildings who used to say, ‘I’m going to wear a surgical mask and tell my doorman I don’t feel well so that there’s no gossip,’” says Liotta. “Now they don’t need to worry about that.”
Indeed, dermatologist Dr. Arash Akhavan says he’s seen a particular uptick in requests for procedures that can literally be masked. “As soon as mask-wearing became more popular, I started to do more consults on SubNovi Plasma, a procedure that treats fine lines around their mouth. Now it’s not a big deal to have scabbing for a week, because they’re going to be wearing a mask anyway.”
Bruising, redness, and peeling aren’t such a setback when your social life is on hold, so there’s also been a surge in procedures not typically done in summer, such as Fraxel lasers and cellulite treatments that can result in a black-and-blue derriere. “People are willing to go for these more robust procedures because they’re not going on vacation in the Caribbean or to Europe,” says Akhavan. “Cellfina, for example, is great because it has potentially permanent results, but the downside has always been that it requires about three weeks of downtime. Now people don’t care. They’re saying, ‘I’m not going to Italy. Let’s take care of this now.’”
“I did four Fraxels yesterday, and I only worked 9 to 1,” says Manhattan dermatologist Dendy Engelman, who says she has seen significantly more patients to date this year than last, despite suspending operations for nearly two months and now only working three days a week. “Fraxel is usually an annual thing that people push to fall, but they just want to knock it out now.”
Another difference? Price is no object. “There’s kind of a ‘the world’s ending I don’t really care what I spend’ attitude,” says Engelman. “They’re much less timid—I walk in to do a consult, and they're already numbed and ready. And nobody has squabbled on price. I think people are like, I have more in the coffers because I’m not doing $400 dinners every week, so I’m going to spend my extra cash on making myself feel and look better.”
The ultimate win-win, she says, is the ideal double whammy: getting an immediate aesthetic and emotional uplift to counteract troubled times, and still looking good when the world is finally unmasked.
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