KYW In Depth: What plastic surgery during the pandemic looks like

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Since elective surgeries were given the green light to resume in New Jersey, Dr. Steven Davis has seen some interesting trends in the procedures his patients have been asking him about.

"From the phone calls that we got over those three months, people were dying to come in," said Davis, board certified plastic surgeon at Davis Cosmetic Plastic Surgery in Cherry Hill, New Jersey." A couple of reasons. You had this crazy situation where so many people were working from home and doing all their things via a Zoom call, so it was the perfect opportunity for them to get things done, but we couldn't do it, because it was elective."

During the time elective surgeries were paused as part of the coronavirus response, the doctor's skills were still put into use for emergencies. 

"As a plastic surgeon I was still on call at the hospitals for any kind of trauma and things like that, but in-office things like Botox and facial fillers and plastic surgery type procedures that were elective, they were all put on hold."

But since his office reopened with a snazzy new HVAC system, new floors and some fresh paint, Davis has been noticing themes in what his patients want to talk about, and he has some ideas about what's behind their cosmetic wishlists.

"Especially if you're on a lot of Zoom calls, you kind of see yourself all day long. And after seeing yourself for three months on Zoom calls, you start to pick out things on yourself that you go, 'you know what, I could fix this. I could fix that. This doesn't look so good.' So we were starting to hear this,” he said. 

Davis said he knew there were patients wanting to come in after answering the voicemails at the office, but he didn't expect the amount of patients that ended up talking with him. 

Timing, he said, was a factor in that. 

"So many people that I consulted with had plans on going away for the summer, they were going to go to Europe, they were going to go on a trip somewhere. And now that, since that's all been shut down, they decided, you know what, I'm going to stay home, and I'm going to get these procedures done that I was thinking of doing maybe in January or December,” he said. 

Davis said working from home is convenient when you're also trying to heal from a procedure. 

"I would normally say you need a week or two off, but they don't need a week or two off because they're working from home, and they're on a computer call. So as far as I'm concerned, I think it's opened up the opportunities for people to really say that they can do things like this and be very safe in recovering at home."

So what are the most popular procedures right now? 

"From a nonsurgical perspective, everything above the mask has become the number one thing," Davis said. "They're coming in for Botox injections, and things that'll be from the mask up."

But it's not just limited to what other people can see when you're wearing a mask. Davis said patients have been getting work done underneath the mask as well. "Interestingly enough, what started to also happen was the idea that patients that wanted to get their lips injected, or get things that are covered up by the mask, now they can get it done and they feel comfortable with that, because after they get it done, they can close it up and maybe if they have some swelling there, people may not even know for a while until they're ready to take the mask off and, like, have a different appearance."

He said face-lift operations are really popular right now. 

During normal times, that's not something that usually happens in the middle of the summer. But this year, because there's less vacationing and more working at home, "it's a perfect opportunity because you can recover, you can actually (tilt) the Zoom camera in a way so that as you're recovering, people don't even know you did something."

The other most popular procedures right now include breast augmentations, liposuction, tummy tucks, and even laser resurfacing.

Davis said coronavirus hasn't just changed what his patients want to get done and when they normally do it, it's also left behind some meaningful changes that he's going to keep in place even after the pandemic is over. 

"These virtual consultations are a complete home run for us. And that's something that we're definitely going to continue with even past when all this coronavirus stuff is over with," Davis said. "Doing these virtual consultations as the initial consult allows me face time, one on one with the patient. I can actually talk to them and see exactly what's concerning them. They don't have to leave their home, they don't have to wait in an office setting, and it gives me an opportunity to clarify what it is that they're concerned about, and explain to them their options for maybe a nonsurgical or a surgical fix."