Plastic Surgery Trends for 2021: The COVID Effect

2020 has been a difficult year for everyone. Illness, death, social distancing and restrictions, workplace disruptions, and uncertainty has been the focal point of 2020 and will most certainly extend for a considerable amount of this coming year. Despite this, in my New York City Plastic Surgery Office, I am seeing upticks in the demand for plastic surgery. We are seeing increased demand for invasive plastic surgery procedures, increased demand for non-surgical procedures, and increased attention to specific areas of the body. My colleagues around the country are reporting similar observations.  This is easily explained given the current circumstances. Let’s take a closer look at this.

Increased Demand for Invasive Procedures

There are many people who have been intending to have invasive surgical procedures like breast implants, tummy tucks, Brazilian Butt Lifts, and Mommy Makeovers. Having these procedures involves considerable planning, including time off of work or time away from parental obligations.  These issues surrounding recovery, are usually the main reasons why people delay having the surgery procedures that they desire.  Oftentimes, many years pass between when people decide to have a surgical procedure and when they actually have that procedure performed. It is common for patients to tell me that they “have been thinking about this for years”.

Changes From Covid Pandemic in Plastic Surgery

One of the main changes that has come from the COVID pandemic, is that people are working from home. This provides a unique advantage for those wanting plastic surgery. Now that people are working from home, they are able to recover from invasive procedures without having to take extended time off. This is because many people find it possible to effectively work from home after surgery, long before they would be comfortable physically going in to the office. When recovering from surgery, it is often difficult to get up, get dressed, drive or commute to work, be in an office, meet face-to-face with colleagues and colleagues, and then return home. This is the main reason why it is common to require two to three weeks off work while recovering from surgery. However, when working from home, the required time off can often be reduced to one week or less, simply by not having to physically go in to work.

Another important consideration when planning for plastic surgery is family considerations. If you are responsible for taking care of children, alternative arrangements need to be made. This can be difficult for many, especially if there are no friends or family available to assist you during your recovery. Now, since many people are working from home or have put off trips and vacations, it may be easier to find people who can help you or your family during the recovery period.

Additionally, many people have money available for surgery that they did not intend on having. This is because many people have cancelled vacations and are not eating out in restaurants. Current financial data indicates that many American families have significantly increased their savings. This has allowed people to find money that may have been reserved for something else, and now use it for their plastic surgery. 

This all means that more people are finding time and money to have the surgical procedure they have been planning.

Increased Demand for Non-Surgical Procedures

For many reasons as detailed above, there is also an increased demand for non-surgical procedures. These include Botox, Fillers, Lasers, and chemical peels.  This is because people have more time for recovery. While these procedures are not surgical, there is still associated recovery since some of these procedures can result in temporary bruising, swelling, and discomfort.  For example, while botox is very well tolerated and often has no bruising, fillers may result in bruising for a few days or a week. Additionally, chemical peels to the face may cause irritation and peeling for a few days for a light peel to a few weeks for a deeper and more aggressive peel.

The recovery from non-surgical procedures is often considered “social recovery”. This means that there is often no pain and no restriction of activities. However, people have bruising and swelling that often makes them want to hide from friends and colleagues until they heal. This can mean avoiding seeing people and being in social gathering for a few weeks. Given current social distancing, social restrictions, and work from home, there is a unique opportunity for “social recovery” without missing out on anything. This is continuing to drive the increased demand for non-surgical procedures.

Increased Focus on Specific Body Areas

Another consideration for 2021 is that people are wearing face masks and will continue to wear face masks for the considerable future. This means that certain parts of the body will remain covered while in public. Areas of the face, such as lips, jawline, neck, and chin, which are common areas of complaints, become less noticeable to others. This has caused people to put off treatment of these areas. There are less demands for neck lifts, fillers to the lips, and chin augmentation. This makes sense since these areas are often covered by a mask and quite simply, “no one sees it”. In turn, there is increased focus towards the areas of the face that remain uncovered when wearing a mask. These areas are the forehead, eyes, and upper cheeks. There is increased demand for treating these areas with botox, fillers, or surgery. Botox can be injected into the forehead and around the eyes to reduce or eliminate lines and wrinkles.  Filler can be injected under the eyes to reduce the appearance of eye hollows and eye bags. Eyelid surgery, or blepharoplasty, is a surgical procedure to remove excess skin and fat from the eyelids, and is increasing in demand since the eyes are the center point of someone wearing a mask.

These are certainly unprecedented times we are living in. There is turmoil, uncertainty, and sacrifice. There is also unusual opportunity for some people, and this has caused an increased demand for surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures. I have seen this as well as my colleagues across the nation. To meet this increased demands, many plastic surgeons have increased the number of consultations they are offering and increasing the number of surgery openings. This is all being done while maintaining the safety of our staff and our patients.

Contact Our Office

If you are looking to explore any surgical or non-surgical cosmetic procedures, we are here to help. To schedule your consultation appointment with Dr. Schulman today, or if you have questions or concerns regarding surgery, send our office an email or give us a call!


Do I need a Tummy Tuck or Liposuction?

Two of the most common procedures performed by plastic surgeons are Tummy Tucks and Liposuction. In fact, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, these two procedures account for almost half a million procedures per year. These are two very different procedures, but are commonly confused. Each one addresses different things and may not be the right procedure for everyone.  To get the best possible results from your plastic surgery, it is important to make sure you get the right operation. To understand if a tummy tuck or liposuction is best for you, you must understand the difference between these two procedures. To understand the difference, we need to take a closer look at what each procedure is, what each procedure does, and who is a candidate for these procedures.

Tummy Tuck:

  • What is a Tummy Tuck?

A tummy tuck is a procedure that addresses the abdominal skin, fat, and muscles in a one operation.  This is why it is such a powerful procedure. The result is a firmer, flatter, and smoother abdomen. Specifically, a tummy tuck includes:

  • Removal of excess abdominal skin
  • Tightening of loose or separated abdominal muscles
  • Removal of excess fat with liposuction
  • Rejuvenation of the belly button
  • Who is a Good Candidate for a Tummy Tuck?

A tummy tuck is so popular because it offers advantages for so many different people, all in different situations.  A tummy tuck may be indicated for people who have lost weight, have skin changes associated with aging, or have abdominal changes from pregnancy.  A tummy tuck will specifically address the excess or loose skin, the belly button, and the separated abdominal muscles. Because of the removed skin, the scar will be a longer scar hidden beneath the underwear line.

  • What type of anesthesia is used?

A tummy tuck is performed under general anesthesia. This allows you to be completely relaxed so that the maximum amount of skin can be removed and your abdominal muscles can be tightened as much as possible.

  • What is the Recovery from a Tummy Tuck?

After a few hours in the recovery room, you will be allowed to go home with your escort. You will have pain medication and antibiotics. The first few days is usually the worst, since you will be “hunched over” and in pain, but it will be manageable.  After about a week, most people feel better, but not great. You should plan on having help at home for a few weeks. You are encouraged to walk throughout this process to promote good circulation. While everyone is different, most patients will require about 3 weeks off from work and 6 weeks off from heavy exercise.


  • What is Liposuction?

Liposuction is a procedure to specifically remove excess fat. It can be performed on virtually any part of the body. Obviously, liposuction is most commonly directed towards the abdomen, back and flanks. However, it is commonly performed on areas such as the neck, arms, and thighs.  This is specifically done using a small suction tube and inserted into tiny incisions.

  • Who is a Good Candidate for Liposuction?

Liposuction is a good procedure for anyone who has excess fat and good skin quality. Even though it is a fat removal procedure, it Is not intended to be a weight loss procedure. Instead, it is a body shaping procedure. This means that the best candidates for liposuction are those who are in good shape but have “problem areas” that are resistant to diet and exercise. Additionally, those with loose skin may be poor candidates for liposuction, since skin laxity may increase afterwards, causing more hanging skin.

  • What type of anesthesia is used?

The type of anesthesia required for your liposuction will vary depending on exactly what you need done. For small areas, it may be possible to have liposuction done under only local anesthesia. For larger areas, or more areas, it is best to have your procedure performed under general anesthesia, allowing your surgeon to more completely remove fat.  

  • What is the Recovery from Liposuction?

Liposuction is a less invasive procedure than a tummy tuck, since no skin is removed. After the procedure, you will be monitored in our recovery room for about an hour. You will experience soreness, bruising, and swelling in the area that you had fat removed. The severity of the recovery will depend on the areas you had liposuction and how much fat you had removed. Most people can return to regular activities in about a week.

How do I know which procedure I need?

Many people are confused whether they need a tummy tuck or liposuction. However, determining which is best for you, should not be difficult. The most important thing to figure out is whether you have excess fat or excess skin.

If you have loose, hanging skin on your abdomen, then a tummy tuck is best. This is because the tummy tuck operation will directly cut off the excess skin. Usually, women who have lost significant weight or have had multiple pregnancies, have excess skin and would do best with a tummy tuck.

If you don’t have excess skin, and only have excess fat, then liposuction may be a better option. Liposuction will remove the fat, but not the skin.  Liposuction tends to be best for people with good skin quality but no skin laxity.

Can the two procedures be combined?

Yes, it is very common to combine a tummy tuck with liposuction. In these cases, the tummy tuck removes the excess skin, rejuvenates the belly button, and tightens the underlying abdominal muscles. Liposuction will then be performed on the sides and flanks, removing excess fat and further improving the waistline.  It is also common for people to want a tummy tuck and liposuction of a separate area such as the thighs, neck, arms, etc.  So, it is also possible to have a tummy tuck and liposuction of separate areas at the same time.

What Happens if I need a Tummy Tuck but only get Liposuction?

It is important to get the right procedure, because if you don’t, your results will not be ideal. So, what if you have excess skin and need a tummy tuck, but for some reason, you get liposuction instead. The result will be increased laxity of the skin. This is because the liposuction will remove the fat, but not the skin. The skin will then appear more loose, since there is less underlying fat. Also, if your abdominal muscles are separated, as is common after pregnancies, your abdomen will skin protrude and appear round after liposuction. In a situation like this, you will likely need a secondary procedure (a tummy tuck) to remove the skin and improve the outcome.

Discuss with your Board Certified Plastic Surgeon

To truly learn which procedure is best for you, you should meet with a board certified plastic surgeon. You should select a surgeon who is experienced in both procedures, so that he or she can give you the best advice.  During your consultation, your surgeon will examine you to figure out how much excess fat you have and how much excess skin you have.  This will determine whether you will get a better. Result with a tummy tuck or with liposuction. Perhaps you would do best with a combination of the two.

If you would like to learn more about whether a tummy tuck or liposuction is right for you, contact New York City, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Matthew Schulman.