What led to an increase in plastic surgeries, surgical beauty procedures over the last two years?

A long-held desire of 29-year-old production designer Preeti Khanna (name changed) was to change the shape of her prominent nose. Its beak-like protrusion coupled with her petite frame led to the mirthless school nickname of ‘bird’. Though she left the nickname behind, she could never shake off the feeling it invoked in her younger self. More than once, she had sought a surgical correction, but her traditional-minded parents put their foot down, claiming it part of her heritage along with being worried about ‘what people will say’.

The pandemic presented her with an opportunity which she jumped at. Finding herself stranded in New York when lockdowns were imposed in 2020, she quietly went in for a nonsurgical rhinoplasty through Botox, at the clinic of American Board of Cosmetic Surgery-certified plastic surgeon Dr Lara Devgan. By the time she returned to her hometown Mumbai a year later, even her parents couldn’t figure out what was different about her looks.

“It was just amazing! I’ve never looked and felt better about myself. Since a large amount of time had passed, and the change is subtle even though effective, no one really noticed it. Now I have the nose I always wanted, without anyone knowing that I changed it!” she beams.

Khanna is one of many people who used the time afforded by the pandemic to pursue cosmetic procedures they were reluctant to attempt earlier. Dr Rajat Gupta, a Delhi-based board-certified plastic surgeon in India with 12 years of experience in aesthetic surgeries, counts members of the Indian film industry, top government officials and cabinet ministers as well as international patients from over 50 different countries, as his clients. He saw a 200 percent increase in patients consulting him for cosmetic surgeries during the Covid period. Many of his patients were operated on and healed while working from home during the pandemic.

He explains, “I think the demand for plastic surgery increased at this time because of many reasons—people had more time at home and could easily recover from the bruising, swelling and pain. Second, people have realised that life can be very fickle. Materialistic acquisitions don’t make a difference to their life, and they would rather spend money on themselves. This is evident from the fact that people started getting into fitness and watching what they ate.

Third, I feel the switch to a digital medium also played a role. Through Zoom meetings, they could see their faces up close on camera throughout the day and saw all their issues in stark light. Their eye bags, sagging faces etc. became more prominent on camera. They were conscious about it and wanted a change.”

Keeping surgical procedures hidden from the world may have been a consideration for some, but for others it wasn’t. Thirty-eight-year-old businessman Rahul Iyer from Chennai had been contemplating a hair transplant to regain his youthful looks for quite some time. However, the demands of work and home never allowed him to pursue the procedure. In 2021, after a year of working from home, he finally took the plunge by indulging in a hair transplantation service, the results of which were obvious to the world. Dr B L Jangid, Dermatologist and Hair Transplant Surgeon at SkinQure Clinic in Delhi, explains this phenomenon, “Most people don’t want to show their surgical procedures to others. They feel more comfortable if no one notices. But certain things can’t be hidden—like a hair transplant. Still this remained our most popular service during the pandemic because people could manage the recovery at home. They need at least five-seven days to recover, and it could easily be done while they worked from home. So, the pandemic worked in their favour.”

Was the pandemic, therefore, a catalyst to boost the plastic surgery business? Not everyone believes so. Dr Manoj Bansal, Senior Consultant Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgeon, Delhi, shares that though the demand for cosmetic surgery procedures increased during the early days of the pandemic, as it progressed, elective procedures became less popular as people were not willing to visit hospitals and clinics. The lack of finances also became a serious issue due to prolonged lockdowns. Therefore, he noticed a reduction in demand for cosmetic procedures.Whatever the case may be, there is no denying that the demand for natural looking cosmetic surgery will always be around. Take it from the continued success of the world’s favourite reality TV family—the Kardashians.

Most Demanded Procedures:

✥ Body contouring
✥ Liposuction
✥ Abdominoplasty
✥ Breast transformation (augmentation and reduction)
✥ Rhinoplasty
✥ Gynaecomastia correction
✥ Scar revisions
✥ Hair transplants
✥ Hydrafacials
✥ Carbon laser peels
✥ Other laser treatments

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