Our lips are sealed — and filled

Thinking about cosmetic surgery? Shutdowns spur boost in industry

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published January 26, 2021

 Ramona Bizon, an esthetician at AMAE Med Spa in Birmingham,  gets an anti-wrinkle treatment called Profound by  Candela from Dr. M. Azhar Ali.

Ramona Bizon, an esthetician at AMAE Med Spa in Birmingham, gets an anti-wrinkle treatment called Profound by Candela from Dr. M. Azhar Ali.

Photo provided by AMAE Med Spa

METRO DETROIT — For many of us, the time we’ve spent cooped up working from home and steering clear of social gatherings has been — well, a pain.

But for some others, all that downtime has presented a unique opportunity to finally get a cosmetic procedure they’ve been wanting.

Dr. M. Azhar Ali, founder of the AMAE Med Spa in Birmingham, explained that in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic nearly a year ago, like most businesses and non-emergency medical facilities, his office was closed to patients until June.

Since then, though, he’s been “extremely busy,” and the consultation requests continue to flood in.

But why are so many folks suddenly moving forward with aesthetic procedures? Why now?

“I believe it’s for a couple of reasons,” said Ali. “First, they haven’t been able to travel and they haven’t gone out to eat much, so they have some money set aside. They have the money, and they see it as a good opportunity for them to take care of something that will make them look and feel better.”

Ali’s practice certainly isn’t the only one that’s booked more surgeries this past year. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 64% of responding professionals said they’d seen an increase in their consultations since before COVID-19 shutdowns began.

“Most of my colleagues have been extremely busy. We’ve been extremely busy,” said Dr. Daniela Rodriguez, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon in St. Clair Shores. “We usually board (procedures) two months out, and now we’re boarding four months out. There’s a huge demand.”

Rodriguez agrees that the boost in business has been helped during the virus because patients have had fewer expenses and a little more disposable income. But more than that, they have a lot more of something you just can’t buy: time.

“The increase in people working from home, doing video calls, they have the ability to stay home and wear (dressings) for longer during the recovery process,” she explained. “They have the ability to recuperate longer and more comfortably, and say if you have to have drains, they’re a little lower and you really can’t tell during a video conference.”

Those Zoom calls have encouraged a lot of this newfound interest in elective surgery. Rodriguez said she’s had patients tell her that they decided to take the plunge after months of looking at themselves on a screen, honing in on what they’d like to improve.

So, what’s hot in plastic surgery these days? Ali said he’s had lots of rhinoplasty consultations, or nose shaping. He’s also done breast augmentations, tummy lifts and breast lifts.

The same goes for Rodriguez, who said her schedule hasn’t shifted to anything out of the ordinary — typical body contouring procedures, what she calls her “bread and butter” cases.

More than anything, though, the ASPS reports that less invasive procedures have increased the most during the pandemic, namely Botulinum Toxin Type A, better known as Botox. Injectables have been the most asked-for treatment, jumping 65% since before shutdowns began.

For those who want to make a change without going under the knife, Ali said there are plenty of non-invasive cosmetic treatments to choose from.

“I’m one of those people to put on some COVID weight, baking at home and trying recipes,” he said. “CoolSculpting (fat-freezing) is completely non-invasive and you can see as much as a 20% reduction in fullness there.”