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The COVID-19 pandemic has driven almost everything online. From work, conferences, meetings, appointments, parties, gatherings, concerts, (and just about everything else), online platforms have taken the world by storm. The internet’s ability to allow people to do almost anything from the comfort of their own computer has caused some fascinating social ripples. One of these social ripples, the cosmetic surgery boom, has splashed into the medical world doubling and tripling business in cosmetic offices. So, what is the cause of this phenomenon and how can you jump in on this “unprecedented” opportunity? Let’s take a dive and find out.

During in-person events, seeing oneself is usually limited to bathroom mirror stops, the occasional selfie, and other intermittent occasions. However, on Zoom, the camera is on nearly 24/7. Through these little screens, people look at their reflection almost all the time. Staring at one’s reflection for so long makes things like smile lines, lipstick wrinkles, forehead creases, and crow’s feet all the more prominent. Some people start to think everyone sees them with these flaws, regardless of whether that’s true or not. This phenomenon is now being called “Zoom Face” – and many people want to remedy their flaws so they can look better on Zoom and other forms of social media. So, they turn to cosmetic doctors.

Facial fillers, rhinoplasties, lip fillers, face lifts, neck-lifts and other face-related procedures are booming. While the exact statistics for 2020 won’t be available until around February, the general consensus within the plastic surgery world has been that 2020 has caused a massive surge in business. While some are saying this surge is due to Zoom, others, like American Society of Plastic Surgeons spokesperson Adam Ross, mentions that there’s a possibility “this is pent-up demand from the months of shutdown when patients were not able to get their procedures.” Regardless of exact correlation, doctors all over the United States are reporting that dozens upon dozens of their patients report that they’ve noticed things over Zoom that they’d like to get “corrected” or touched-up.  

Zoom isn’t the only reason why plastic surgery has skyrocketed: Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube is where young adults spend their time during lockdown. On these social media platforms, “influencers” set beauty and fashion trends that have encouraged young adults to seek plastic surgery to achieve their ideal beauty standard. Additionally, increasingly popular camera “filters” that slightly adjust/clear/alter one’s face mean young adults can see potential plastic surgery results through their screens. For the first time, many adults have decided to get facial fillers, lip fillers, and skin treatments in 2020 to achieve these standards, many of which are set by social media.

Finally, the benefit of assured home recovery time is an additional reason people are looking towards cosmetic surgery right now. With most of the country still experiencing stay-at-home orders, many are using that increased privacy as comfortable recovery time for procedures they’ve always wanted but didn’t have the time beforehand. This doesn’t only include recovery for facial procedures but also for mommy makeovers, breast enhancements, breast reductions, body sculpting, laser hair removal, and more. The appeal of not having the expectation to go anywhere means that people can rest at home while still accomplishing all their work tasks, a combination that perfectly supports bigger cosmetic procedures.

Cosmetic surgery isn’t only the affect of “Zoom Face”, pent-up demand, social media influence, and added opportunity – it’s also a way people are coping with the uncertainty of 2020 and 2021. It can serve a double benefit for those struggling with the pandemic, since cosmetic surgery provides both personal pick-me-ups and a sense of control. With so many people suffering disappointment after disappointment, lockdown after lockdown, a self-confidence boost can do wonders. Whether this be in a face lift, liposuction, lip fillers, or a breast augmentation, people are using plastic surgery to splurge on themselves and provide something that gives them lasting confidence. Plus, during a time when most of the population feels helpless, being able to take control of something feels good. Cosmetic procedures provide people with something to look forward to and something they can personally control amidst a messy world. Both of these desires have contributed to the growing popularity of cosmetic surgery.

What can plastic surgeons do to make the most of this opportunity? Aside from deliver excellent results, the next most important thing is to let potential patients know who you are, your service, and what you offer. Not only that, but broadcasting how your services are timely to what they’re looking for is extremely helpful in finding patients. In your marketing strategy, highlighting a few areas which are hottest right now may be the key to helping you boost your numbers for 2021.

Remember that facial procedures are all the rage – including with young adults! This means emphasizing both anti-aging and preventative aging benefits is useful for today’s audiences. Face lifts and neck lifts have been increasingly popular with older audiences, while lip fillers and facial fillers are in demand with young adults. With masks being mandatory in many locations, people are also gravitating towards procedures that highlight the eyes – this includes procedures that rid crow’s feet, undereye bags, and drooping eyelids. Spotlighting these procedures while clearly showing the results is a great idea to capture the attention of those looking to do something about “Zoom face” or meet their personal goals.

Also, highlighting the benefit of home recovery time is vital. Some people, particularly those who’ve never had a cosmetic procedure before, don’t think too much about recovery time when considering procedures. So, stressing that remote work and staying at home provides a perfect opportunity to recover causes people to consider the idea that now is a perfect time. Once in-person work is normal again, finding recovery time will be more difficult and less private. Bringing that attention to potential patients can be the encouragement they need to book their consultation.

Additionally, underlining the safety of procedures during COVID is something patients search for. In today’s world, safety, hygiene, and cleanliness are at the top of people’s concern list. It’s critical to show patients that every safety measure is being taken to give them (and the practitioners) the safest and best experience possible. Adding online consultation, mask precautions, sanitary measures, and other precautions to websites, email lists, social media, etc. is a great way to ease the concerns of any patients who are worried about potential COVID exposure.

Finally, upping social media and online presence is a fantastic way to reach potential patients. Blogs, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, email lists, savvy websites, and – for the most ambitious, TikTok – are great ways to capture the attention of an almost-entirely online audience. The days of posters and billboards are over (for now) and the days of clickable ads and blog posts are in! In today’s time, people are seeking out cosmetic procedures, pick-me-ups, and ways to boost their confidence. They hardly need to be convinced, but they do need to know what’s available, why now is the perfect time, and what can help them achieve their goals. Today, cosmetic offices have the strange advantage of being able to make the most of the New Online World, and it’s almost certain that regardless of COVID-19, this phenomenon won’t end soon.

Kayla Schleining
Kayla Schleining