The Real Reason You Might Suddenly Want Plastic Surgery During The Pandemic

During the pandemic, most of us have adopted Zoom calls rather than in-person meetings, and one unexpected side effect (outside of all the surprise cats on the screen and kids yelling in the background) is that many of us are staring at our own faces for more hours a day than we normally would be. Interestingly, this is causing many of us to hyper-focus on signs of aging or other "imperfections" in our faces that we otherwise wouldn't stop to stare at. There are plenty of ways to deal with potential feelings of insecurity that may arise because of this. 

Some may choose to go the way of Ram Das and try to internalize his quote about accepting numerous forms of physical beauty: "When you go out into the woods and you look at the trees, you see all these different trees. Some of them are bent, some of them are straight, some of them are evergreens ... and you look at the tree and you allow it" (via Goodreads). Others seek treatments like facial peels, Botox injections, or other cosmetic procedures, and some opt for surgical intervention. All of these responses to feeling less-than-enthused about our no-longer-teenage faces are valid and should not be a source of shame. 

If you are among those leaning toward surgical intervention to lift your eyes or tighten your jawline, you aren't alone. The Washington Post reports that there has been an uptick in facial cosmetic surgeries since the pandemic that is being called "The Zoom Effect." 

Popular surgeries during the pandemic

The List spoke to board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Elliot Hirsch, who explained to us that his profession has seen an increase in procedures like blepharoplasties, which address "tired, droopy eyes," and mini facelifts, because "people are looking at themselves on a computer screen all day, so they are noticing things like droopy eyes or sagging cheeks." We asked who would be ideal candidates for these types of procedures if they were interested, and Dr. Hirsch explained, "Patients who have extra skin on their eyelids which makes them appear to look tired are good candidates for blepharoplasties. Patients who have jowls, extra skin on their cheeks, or a poorly defined jawline could be good candidates for a face or neck lift."

Because these surgeries are elective, we asked him what precautions are taken to protect patients and ensure their safety during the pandemic. He replied that "everyone has pre-op screening which includes a COVID test." He also explained that it is always a good idea to make sure you understand all instructions the doctor's office gives you for how to prepare for your surgery. "Patients contact their doctor's office to ask about specific precautions that their doctor recommends, as it will vary depending on which state you are in and what protocols they have in place." 

Non-surgical options

There are, of course, non-surgical options for those experiencing "The Zoom Effect" and who would like to improve their appearance without going under a knife. Dr. Hirsch has advice for them as well. "There are many options for patients who want to reverse what they're seeing on zoom. Some options like Botox, fillers, Kybella, laser treatments are non-surgical." Kybella, according to The Atlantic, was approved by the FDA in 2015, and is an injectable drug made by pharmaceutical company Allergan. It is a synthetic version of deoxycholic acid, which is a salt naturally found in our digestive tract. It is used to destroy fat cells as an alternative to liposuction. For facial treatments, it is generally used to reduce the appearance of a double chin by reducing the fat stored in that part of the face.  

We asked Dr. Hirsch if he foresaw the uptick in demand for cosmetic procedures to continue to trend upwards. He replied, "I think that Zoom meetings are here to stay because it's so much easier and more convenient than going to in-person meetings." So it's possible that as Zoom remains an integral part of our professional lives, "The Zoom Effect" may be something we are left to grapple with for some time. And however you choose to address what you might be seeing in the computer screen, know that your beauty and your appearance are always about your own empowerment, and any choice you make is valid.