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As the COVID-19 pandemic has changed lives in some way for all of us, there were even more unknowns for our plastic surgery practices. How would they cope during mandatory lockdowns and beyond? Would patients hesitate to engage in medical procedures, let alone cosmetic? How would everyone online virtual work for consultations? Would people be less inclined to have cosmetic surgery?

Lots of ifs.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) wanted to find some of these answers, which is why, throughout the month of June, they conducted a survey to understand which procedures were most important among patients. The aim was to see if the public mindset had changed on preferred treatments.

Since we have many plastic surgeons on our Advice Media practice list, let’s see what people were talking about and how it compared to 2019.

The poll

The ASPS surveyed 350 members in May and June. The results were based on practices observed when resuming office visits for patients and what they had learned during their previous telemedicine consultations.

Telemedecine

On telemedicine, COVID-19 has raised the bar exponentially in a very short period of time. Analysts initially predicted virtual medical office visits would be around 36 million for this year. This reflected a growing trend.

Then came the virus and no one could leave their home. Hello online medical visits. The new forecast for the number of virtual office visits in 2020? Over 220 million. Yet, while virtual office visits can be used for diagnosis and possible treatment options for some general health issues, they do not work the same way for cosmetic practices. After all, you may be able to tell a patient that he or she would be a good candidate for blepharoplasty, but you cannot perform the surgery virtually.

  • The ASPS survey found that plastic surgery practices were using telemedicine for virtual consultations, with 64% of respondents noting an increase in their telemedicine consultations compared to last year before COVID-19.
  • 68% of respondents said they started seeing patients virtually because of the virus.

What did patients inquire about during these consultations?

During their online consultations during COVID-19, patients were interested in these procedures:

  1. Botulinum toxin type A – 65%
  2. Breast augmentation – 44%
  3. Soft tissue fillers – 37%
  4. Liposuction – 30%
  5. Abdominoplasty – 24%

Another survey by ASPS (via Quester) asked consumers what they think about plastic surgery and the main treatments that interest them.

  • 49% of those who did not have plastic surgery said they were open to cosmetic or reconstructive procedures in the future.
  • Of these, 28% would consider a first cosmetic intervention.
  • Rhinoplasty, facelifts and breast augmentation were the most popular procedures.
  • Those who had previously undergone procedures reported an improvement in their overall confidence.

How does that compare to last year?

While the ASPS predicts that there will be a decrease in the total number of cosmetic procedures in 2020 due to the closure of offices caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, they also forecast continued strong demand for various procedures now that most offices have reopened.

Compare the above list of virtual consultations this spring and summer during the virus with the top five cosmetic surgeries performed in 2019 listed here:

  1. Breast augmentation (299,715 procedures)
  2. Liposuction (265,209 procedures)
  3. Eyelid surgery (2,111,005 procedures)
  4. Nose reshaping (207,284 procedures)
  5. Facelift (123,685 interventions)

And these top five minimally invasive cosmetic procedures of 2019:

  1. Botulinum toxin type A (7.69 million procedures)
  2. Soft tissue fillers (2.72 million procedures)
  3. Chemical peels (1.38 million procedures)
  4. Laser hair removal (1.0 million procedures)
  5. Intense pulsed light (685,755 procedures)

As you can see by comparing the numbers between surgical and non-surgical procedures, the numbers are higher overall for non-surgical treatments in 2019. But the first online consultations during the COVID period of 2020 showed a big interest in three surgical procedures: breast augmentation, liposuction and tummy tuck (tummy tuck). Other familiar evidence shows a strong interest in eyelid surgery, brow lift, and neck lift. That interest would be way higher than their 2019 numbers. Maybe all this close-up time spent on Zoom and FaceTime has caused many people to re-evaluate a few things about their face and body!

These are encouraging trends for our Advice Media practices which had to shut down for three months or more this spring and early summer. This bodes well for the rest of this year and even more so when a vaccine finally becomes available. The country’s most famous epidemiologist, Dr Anthony Fauci, said he expected to see a viable vaccine by early 2021.

For our Advice Media practices, and for all of us, this will be really good news!

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