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‘People don’t like the way they look on Zoom’: Plastic surgery ‘lift’ during COVID-19 pandemic

Click to play video: 'Zoom boom?: B.C. plastic surgeons seeing boost during COVID-19' Zoom boom?: B.C. plastic surgeons seeing boost during COVID-19
Plastic surgeons in our province are getting a lift during the COVID-19 pandemic in the form of a swell of new and repeat patients. Kristen Robinson has a look at the increased demand for cosmetic surgery and why some believe working from home is fuelling a 'Zoom boom'. – Feb 14, 2021

Plastic surgeons in Metro Vancouver are seeing a swell of new and repeat clients during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the increased demand may be partially due to people scrutinizing their appearances while spending hours on video conferences.

Working from home is also allowing cosmetic surgery patients to quietly recover without being seen – while the provincial mask mandate means they can hide their faces until it’s time for the big reveal.

“Everything seems to be busier than it was,” plastic surgeon Dr. Benjamin Gelfant told Global News.

“But there’s definitely an increase in the number of facelifts.”

Dr. Benjamin Gelfant is one of the Vancouver area plastic surgeons experiencing a boost in business during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo submitted.
Dr. Benjamin Gelfant is one of the Vancouver area plastic surgeons experiencing a boost in business during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo submitted.

Gelfant, who has practiced in Vancouver for more than three decades, said breast augmentations are also up significantly since he made a gradual return to the office in late May 2020.

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Coronavirus: Private cosmetic surgeons coming together lending ventilators to hospitals – Mar 24, 2020

Initially, he expected business would be poor if people were scared of visiting hospitals or surgical centres amid the novel coronavirus crisis.

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“Surprisingly, the opposite seems to be the case,” Gelfant said.

He’s not sure why he’s busier but noted that while he shut down his practice for three months at the beginning of the pandemic, he gave his own website a “facelift” by rewriting important segments and adding a “whole suite of graphics and visuals.”

Gelfant said a ‘Zoom Boom’ is conjecture but possible given how cameras can distort faces.

“People don’t like the way they look on Zoom apparently,” he said.

Another plastic surgeon who’s been practicing on the Lower Mainland since 1987 said there’s been a surprising strength in the demand for aesthetic plastic surgery during the pandemic.

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“Few of us would have predicted this during a time of economic hardship brought on by a global catastrophe,” Dr. Eric Pugash told Global News.

Pugash said some have speculated that days on end in Zoom meetings cause people to become more aware of facial flaws.

Dr. Eric Pugash is also reporting “surprising strength for aesthetic plastic surgery during the pandemic.” Photo submitted.
Dr. Eric Pugash is also reporting “surprising strength for aesthetic plastic surgery during the pandemic.” Photo submitted.

“I think that’s motivating people to act and think about what they can do over and above just improving the lighting when they’re online,” said Vancouver area plastic surgeon Dr. Mathew Mosher.

Although there are no statistics, Mosher, who is also the president of the Canadian Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, said trends show heightened interest in all cosmetic procedures and surgery.

Facial treatments and surgery are on the rise with the average client between 35 to 50 years old, and working from home, said Mosher.

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Time to recover at home while still fulfilling their employment contracts, and more disposable income, may be influencing their decision to spend on themselves, he added.

Read more: More men are getting plastic surgery – here’s what they’re getting done

Pugash also suggested that money that would normally go towards entertainment and travel may now be being spent on self-enhancement.

Mosher attributes an increase in non-surgical body contouring and liposuction to people wanting to improve their shape – after gaining weight over the last 12 months.

The Canadian Dermatology Association also believes the appearance of tired, drawn-out, or angry looks and sagging faces on Zoom calls is fuelling a spike in Botox facial procedures.

“There is certainly a substantial increase,” said president and Vancouver dermatologist Dr. Jason Rivers.

“I think the Zoom Boom is a real phenomenon, yes.”

Rivers said he currently has a waiting list as the demand for Botox treatments and laser work has magnified since he reopened last May.

While he feels people are splurging with money normally spent on travel, Rivers also said many of us are “down” after months and months of the same.

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“People are feeling somewhat depressed that this is going on so long and want to feel better about themselves,” Rivers said.

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