The Zoom Boom: Pandemic leads to spike in plastic surgery

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CARMEL, Ind. — While many businesses struggled to survive in 2020, one industry saw a significant spike. There’s been a surge in people getting plastic surgery. It’s being called the Zoom Boom.

The pandemic had us all looking through a much different lens. Homes turned into offices, Zoom calls took over the workday and family gatherings became a virtual experience.

“And those screens aren’t flattering. They’re not flattering to the most attractive people,” said Dr. Nicole Klein with OA Facial Plastics.

So many people stared at the screen for hours, giving them a longer and more up-close look at their faces.  Some couldn’t help critiquing what they were seeing.

“You’re picking out all these insecurities about yourself,” said Avery Dobson, a plastic surgery patient.

From noses to necks, more people are turning to plastic surgery. Klein, who practices in Carmel and is also an ear, nose and throat specialist at IU Health, describes the last half of 2020 as one of the busiest she’s seen in her nearly 20 years.

“I think it was a little bit surprising. I don’t think any of us expected there would be that dramatic of an increase,” she said.

According to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 70% of doctors saw an increase in plastic surgery patients during the pandemic.

Dobson, a student at Ball State University, broke her nose when she was 12 years old. She decided to have surgery to help with breathing problems and to remove a bump that had formed over time, eventually becoming an insecurity.

“I just saw myself on screen so much, and after seeing that I was like, ‘I have this opportunity. I want to take it,'” she said.

In addition to Zoom, wearing masks all the time influenced the decision for some patients. Everything except our foreheads and our eyes have been covered for more than a year.

“Well, I started looking at photos of myself and my eyes were disappearing. They were just going away and I didn’t like it at all,” said Lori Crandall, another plastic surgery patient.

Crandall is a nurse and her eyes show a smile and support for patients who may need a bit of hope.

“It’s been a very, very trying 13 months, that’s for sure,” she said.

This past January, Crandall had excess skin removed from her upper eyelids. She’d been thinking about the surgery for the past couple years.

“I’m fighting 60 tooth and nail, so I’m doing everything I can. So, it’s just part of that making me feel good and have confidence,” she said.

More flexible work schedules are also making recovery times easier. People haven’t taken as many vacations, and that extra money saved could make a splurge on surgery more doable.

Dr. Brenda Weber is a professor of gender studies at Indiana University and author of the book “Makeover TV: Selfhood, Citizenship and Celebrity.” She cautions people to take time before making a final decision.

“There are good reasons that people would have those desires, and it’s important to do the work and the preparation before you make those kinds of decisions,” Weber said.

Plastic surgery does accomplish what it sets out to do in terms of improving looks, she said. What it achieves beyond that depends on the individual.

“If it says we can make you look younger or your teeth whiter or straighter or whatever, it can achieve those goals. Now whether those outcomes in turn provide the happiness, peace, or sense of control an individual is looking for, that is a whole different matter.”

Both Dobson and Crandall tell FOX59 they have a greater sense of confidence since their surgeries.

“Yes, I’m very happy,” Dobson said.

Even if we go back to more face-to-face meetings and interactions, Dr. Klein thinks the Zoom Boom in her office won’t be a bust anytime soon.

“I think the level in which people are seeking services will remain. I don’t think that this is a spike that will taper off,” she said.

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