Beauty prodecures: how COVID, mask and Zoom conferences are converting traits

With masks and online meetings part of the new normal, surgeons are seeing a rise in cosmetic procedures to get the perfect look.

Cosmetic surgeons are reporting a huge jump in the number of Australians having non-invasive plastic surgery to achieve the perfect “Zoom face”, and look younger above the mask line.

Areas on the rise include a focus on forehead, eye and wrinkle relaxers, a term coined “MASKetics” to improve anything that’s not covered by a face mask, says cosmetic surgeon Vivek Eranki. “Over the last 12 months we have experienced an extraordinary surge in people wanting to undertake non-surgical procedures, so they can improve their image on Zoom and in other online forums,” says Eranki, adding the number of lip fillers has dropped due to compulsory mask-wearing periods.

“We have also witnessed a trend towards procedures that emphasise the eyes, brow and forehead as well, as people seek to emphasise their ‘above-the-mask’ features.”

Botox, fillers surge

The number of injectables at Cosmetique cosmetic clinics across the country has risen 300 per cent in the last 12 months, Eranki says.

“Funnily enough, it’s really picked up in the last year – people come in wanting things to be addressed based on what they see on Zoom,” he says.

“Pre-COVID, when you were in a meeting with someone it was face-to-face and you don’t pay as much attention to how you come across. But on Zoom you can see yourself, and given people are spending extended amounts of time looking at themselves on the screen, they are more conscious of how they are looking.”

Eranki says non-surgical procedures are popular because the results are instant, without the downtime or complications of surgery – and with few “telltale signs”.

Crows feet, bunny lines unmasked

Anti-wrinkle injections for crow’s feet around the eyes, bunny lines around the nose and Botox to smooth forehead lines have proven the most popular treatments.

“When you’re covering half your face, the other half has to compensate for looking refreshed, so people are opting for that and coming in more frequently to help the top half of the face,” Eranki says. “You don’t look frozen, you can still express yourself and smile and look surprised and happy – but you lose all those deep lines that you have which can make you look younger, and that’s more important than ever as people see themselves so much on screens. The number of people wanting lip fillers went down during COVID and actually went up the week masks were no longer required … because while they were hidden, they didn’t care.”

The president of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), Dan Kennedy, advises thoroughly researching procedures and if you’re not convinced, getting a second – or third – opinion.

“You can always check a doctor’s qualifications – including any restrictions on their practice – through the Medical Board of Australia,” he says. “Selecting a surgeon from the Find a Surgeon section of the ASPS website guarantees you are selecting a highly trained specialist plastic surgeon.”

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‘Zoom made me look old’

Businesswoman Alecia Thomson, 37, has had nose filler, lip filler and wrinkle relaxers, and says wearing masks during COVID made her realise how important her remaining visible features were.

“I found it quite confronting catching glimpses of myself wearing a mask in the mirror or shop windows, or Zoom calls and FaceTiming friends and family, and realising how aged it made me look,” says the mother of two. “Since then I have definitely placed a greater importance on my eye and forehead area, using not only wrinkle relaxers to help with the current and future signs of ageing but I have also started using better-targeted skin care products as well.“

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