When COVID-19 patients began flooding medical centers, doctors told patients awaiting elective procedures that they would have to wait - the hospitals needed all the beds, ventilators, and staff they could get. As restrictions start to lift, however, wealthy patients are flooding plastic surgery practices, with many expressing concern that another lockdown in the fall could prevent them from receiving aesthetic treatments. At a time when millions of people are struggling to make ends meet, the well to do are driving demand for plastic surgery, highlighting pervasive disparities in wealth and healthcare.

Beating The Quarantine Fifteen

Among those seeking out supposed post-quarantine plastic surgery, one of the most popular procedures is liposuction, as patients seek to quickly ditch the so-called “Quarantine Fifteen.” A targeted way of removing fat, liposuction is the ideal procedure for people who are in need of some body contouring, but who are otherwise healthy and of normal weight. It’s also relatively non-invasive and, in some cases, it can even be performed on conscious patients with only a mild sedative and local anesthesia.

Liposuction can be used to reshape a number of different areas, depending on the individual’s body type and specific needs. However, liposuction typically targets the abdomen and love handles, as well as the butt, thighs, and upper arms. Occasionally, it’s also performed on the chest, neck, or ankles. 

According to plastic surgeons seeing patients right now, those selecting procedures in the post-COVID moment don’t necessarily consider liposuction their top priority. Instead, as they plan to go under the knife, patients are asking for liposuction in addition to other procedures, such as breast augmentation, allowing them to ditch the 10 or 20 pounds gained during quarantine seemingly in the blink of an eye.

The Face Behind The Mask

While the Quarantine Fifteen may be of concern for a lot of people, others have turned their focus to a different part of the body - the face. After all, with everyone wearing masks or popping up on Zoom videos, people are unusually focused on how their features appear. In response, they’re pursuing an unprecedented number of lower facelifts and neck lifts, as well as jawline procedures. Patients report that the timing feels perfect; while their lower face procedures heal, they can hide the swelling and bruising behind a mask.

As for the parts of the body above the mask, they’re certainly not going unnoticed. With the lower half of their faces covered, people are noticing how stress has affected their eyes and brow area. Faced with the perception that they are aging more rapidly, some patients are pursuing their first aesthetic procedures including Botox, fillers, and brow lifts. Just as lower face procedures can be hidden behind a mask, patients are also seeking facial procedures now because, stuck at home, they won’t interfere with their social or professional lives.

Recovering From Closures

When they stopped performing elective procedures in March, plastic surgeons couldn’t have predicted the surge in demand that would arrive come summer. A pandemic combined with high rates of joblessness made it seem unlikely, in fact. What this increase proved instead was that many of the patients interested in plastic surgery don’t require a high degree of consumer confidence to drop the big bucks. They have the money and they’ll spend it in whatever ways make them feel best, and right now that means plastic surgery.