Cosmetic surgeries in demand during the pandemic in SA

Charles Serrurier, a Johannesburg cosmetic surgeon, said he has seen a 30% increase in facial patients, while other procedures have increased by about 35%.
Charles Serrurier, a Johannesburg cosmetic surgeon, said he has seen a 30% increase in facial patients, while other procedures have increased by about 35%.
Image: 123RF/Olena Yakobchuk

Chin implants, eyelid surgery, facelifts and mommy makeovers. These are some of the cosmetic surgeries that have been in demand during the Covid-19 pandemic.

With many South Africans working from home and making virtual video calls, people are seeing more of their own reflections ... and deciding on upgrades.

Aesthetic specialists and plastic surgeons said demand for cosmetic procedures took off the moment restrictions on elective surgeries were lifted last year.

Cape Town plastic and reconstructive surgeon Frank Graewe has seen a 50% increase in appointments for facelifts, liposuction, Brazilian butt lifts, breast augmentations and mommy makeovers.

He linked the spike to the "Zoom effect" and that working from home allows patients more recovery time.

Graewe said there was more to it than vanity. "With all the devastation that Covid-19 has caused, people have suddenly realised that life can be too short. People want to do what is important to them, and looking good is actually very important for many people.

"For many, plastic surgery was always on the bucket list but they kept postponing due to other priorities. With favourable conditions such as working from home, people feel like now is the right time as they can recover while working at the same time."

Two weeks ago, a Cape Town mother went for a makeover, which involved a tummy tuck, liposuction and a breast lift.

"The lockdown gave me time to start planning my life more closely and start putting deadlines to my goals to make things happen," she said. "Covid-19 made me prioritise my health, happiness and my goals.

"It's a complete, fulfilling experience. I feel more motivated, and every day as I'm healing I'm seeing more progress and the feeling is incredible. I can't wait to get back to the gym ... it's all been so worthwhile."

Charles Serrurier, a Johannesburg cosmetic surgeon, said he has seen a 30% increase in facial patients, while other procedures have increased by about 35%.

"First, people are working from home and can have their downtime and still continue to work. Second, they are spending more time doing online meetings - they are seeing themselves more often and more critically," he said.

Cape Town plastic surgeon Paul Skoll said the most common procedures were chin implants, rhinoplasty, eyelid surgery and upper-lip lifts. Bookings for these procedures have gone up by 30%, with November the busiest month.

"People feel a lot more comfortable to have surgery when they are isolated from everyone as they see this as less risky in terms of post-surgery complications."

Skoll described the effects of Covid-19 as a "double-edged sword" as some have lost their jobs or seen their businesses suffer, but others have more disposable income as they spend less on dining and travelling.

"The reality is that the pandemic has left many feeling rather depressed, so people are looking for things that will make them feel better, and plastic surgery makes people look and feel better," said Skoll.

"The masks also help to cover up while patients are still recovering, so the scarring is often hidden."

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