COVID-19 Spurs "Zoom Boom" in Cosmetic Surgery

John Whyte, MD; Andrew Ordon, MD


June 25, 2021

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JOHN WHYTE: Welcome, everyone. You're watching Coronavirus in Context. I'm Dr. John Whyte, the chief medical officer at WebMD.

Do you have Zoom dysmorphia? Have you been spending time on Zoom and you don't quite like the way you look? Is this a real thing? Or is it really just an issue of the camera angle?

So to help provide some insight, I'm delighted to be joined by Dr. Andrew Ordon. He's a board-certified plastic surgeon. And you all know him as the co-host of the award-winning talk show The Doctors. Drew, thanks for joining me.

ANDREW ORDON: John, my pleasure. And you hit the nail on the head when it comes to the Zoom boom. It's a combination of both yes, there's things that we can and maybe we should change. And you have to be your own Zoom producer, be the best you can be when you're on Zoom, like you and I, that we do this every day. So there's little tricks in terms of lighting and camera angle and all of those things that will also improve your Zoom experience.

JOHN WHYTE: But what's interesting is during COVID, elective surgeries have been canceled. And now that surgeries are being redone, I just want to give you some statistics. 56% of dermatologists say they see an increase in people wanting cosmetic procedures. Plastic surgeons in your area have seen a dramatic increase in rhinoplasty, eyelid surgery, and facelift. And 80% of the people are saying they don't like what they see on Zoom.

ANDREW ORDON: And I hear it from patients directly. They say it, I don't like the way I see myself when I'm on Zoom, on social media. So it clearly is a stimulus.

And you are right on, John, that business is booming. We had the moratorium. We had to shut down elective plastic surgery with COVID.

But then when things lifted, I mean, I don't know, part of it was Zoom. But I think people, just because of the whole experience, wanted to do something for themselves, wanted to do something to make themselves feel better about themselves after the debacle we all went through with COVID. So a number of factors, but the numbers are there in plastic surgery. You alluded to those procedures. But I think everything is on the up and up.

JOHN WHYTE: Some people are saying this is the perfect time to have plastic surgery because you can still wear a mask and then no one will notice or you're working from home so you're not going to have any bruising. Do you think that's a component to it as well?

ANDREW ORDON: For sure. When you're talking about facial work, whether it be rhinoplasty, whether it be a facelift or lips, you're wearing that mask. So nobody is seeing what you've done. Interesting enough, we're talking about trends, because we've been wearing the mask, people are focusing on their eyes and brows. Eyes and brown lifts are up because people have been studying their eyes and brows so much. That's what people are seeing the most of--

JOHN WHYTE: Now I feel like I'm looking--

ANDREW ORDON: --when you have that mask on. So that's been another motivating factor.

JOHN WHYTE: Is what people see on the numerous video conferencing, even the selfies that they're posting on Instagram, Facebook, and other social media, are those accurate representations of what you really look like?

ANDREW ORDON: I mean, John, you're a TV guy. You're a social media Zoom guy. You know that the camera is all about angles and lighting. And it tends to add weight to our face. So much about angles need to come down from above. Obviously, if we're coming from below, it's never flattering.

Angles make such a big difference when it comes to really accentuating whether it be bags under your eyes or a double chin, all those things. So you need to be your best advocate. Find the best angles for you, the best lighting. Be a pro. But that being said, if you have certain characteristics that really show up when you're on the camera, then you may want to consider addressing them-- a little lipo on the neck, upper and lower eyelid surgery, maybe changing that nose and profile.

JOHN WHYTE: But would you recommend anything to someone who says I don't like what I look like on Zoom, I didn't really notice those bags? Should they had someone take a picture of them?

ANDREW ORDON: If you're seeing something on the screen, chances are that there is something going on. So if it bothers and you want to explore the possibility of improving it, you need to go see your plastic surgeon face to face in three dimensions and get an evaluation. And a reputable, well-trained plastic surgeon is going to be honest with you. If you have something that would benefit from surgery, they'll tell you that. And if not, they may just say work on camera angle or lighting or whatever.

JOHN WHYTE: And then do you think the mental health pandemic has played into this, that in some ways improving your appearance or feeling more comfortable about your appearance can actually help with the moods that some people have been experienced-- depression, anxiety, PTSD, having been locked down, not being able to see family and friends? Is the Zoom boom somewhat a component of the mental health issues we've been experiencing?

ANDREW ORDON: On The Doctors, we're, like you, were talking about COVID issues all the time. And the mental health aspect of what we've been through with COVID is huge-- depression all across the board, the youngsters, adolescents, teenagers who were pulled out of school and activities, and people couldn't have normal graduations, normal events. All of these things have contributed to anxiety, neuroses, true depression, mood disorders. There's no question about it.

And that being said, the studies are there. They have shown that if you do things to improve your appearance that makes you feel better about yourself, that sort of is a little mood booster in addition to the physical changes, that it will help you make you feel better about yourself. So they do go hand in hand.

Now, I'm not saying just because you're feeling a little down you've got to come in and have surgery with me. But studies have shown that it will help. You know how it is. Even something as simple as getting your hair cut, if you feel better about yourself-- hey, I look better, this made me look younger, better, whatever-- it does boost your mood and your overall attitude. And I think plastic surgery falls into that category as well.

JOHN WHYTE: And you don't want to do plastic surgery at home. So if you're concerned about something that you see on Zoom, as Dr. Ordon tells us, talk to a plastic surgeon. Talk to a dermatologist. Talk to your doctor and get an accurate assessment. Drew, thanks for joining me today.

ANDREW ORDON: John, a real pleasure. It was great being with you.

This interview originally appeared on WebMD on June 25, 2021

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