Why the pandemic fueled a cosmetic surgery boom


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JOHN WHYTE, MD: Welcome, everyone. You are looking at Coronavirus in context. I’m Dr. John Whyte, WebMD’s Chief Medical Officer.

And I’m delighted to have a very special guest today: my good friend Dr. Drew Ordon, host of The doctors. Dr. Ordon, thank you for joining me today. It’s great to see you again.

DREW ORDON, MD: Always a pleasure, John. You know I never say no to John Whyte.

JOHN WHYTE: Well, thank you.

You know, the last time we spoke, we discussed this concept of Zoom fatigue. That, and Zoom’s dysmorphism, that people weren’t seeing a true picture of themselves looking at themselves all day. They were undergoing rhinoplasty, nose surgery, other types of procedures. But now there’s this discussion out there – and we really have a lot of mental health issues going on. People suffer a lot from anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress.

And one of the things we’re trying to address is, how can we help people feel good about themselves? So, you are a world famous plastic surgeon. You talk to people about appearance all the time in your clinical practice. What do you hear and talk to patients about to help them feel good about themselves? And one of the components of it is the physical appearance, as well as their mental outlook.

DREW ORDON: Yeah. Well, John, I mean, COVID has literally impacted every aspect of our lives, and you alluded to the Zoom boom, people are spending more time virtually on screen, just like we are now, at looking at themselves, analyzing themselves: “I don’t I don’t like this wrinkle”, “I don’t like these bags”, “I don’t like this double chin”, whatever. They saw them, and they focused on it, and that encouraged them to go see a plastic surgeon and make changes to make them look better on screen.

And now we’re years into this COVID thing, and the mental aspects have really surfaced, that’s probably one of the biggest issues that bothers people. Anxiety and depression, and just feeling awesome about life in general. And you’re right, that if we’re more comfortable in our own skin – no pun intended – if we’re more comfortable with how we look, it helps our mental well-being.

In fact, there are studies that have shown that Botox has reduced symptoms of depression in people, simply by making them look better — less wrinkles, more refreshed, less symptoms of depression. So it’s now – with Zoom boom, now here we are – that people want to give themselves a little mental boost, and they’re coming to make physical changes.

JOHN WHYTE: But is it a double-edged sword? Because some people might say, “Well, hey, Dr. Ordon, if people get too engrossed in their physical appearance, it might make them more depressed, and not everyone can afford surgery as opposed to other types of products.” So where’s the fine line there?

I’m sure a lot of people think, “Oh, I know someone who’s gone too far in plastic surgery. And we all know celebrities around that. So where do you balance? You want to look better and feel better, but at the same time, if you focus too much on how you look and on certain things, you can’t change certain things. It will make things worse.

DREW ORDON: It’s kind of a fine line, and it’s the balance. And talk about social media. I worry about the teams. There is so much content on it. People are transforming images, people are changing their appearance through Photoshop, or whatever, and that’s causing young people, teenagers, teenagers, to take some pretty drastic measures, potentially plastic surgery at too early an age.

But John, it comes down to — with plastic surgery, deciding to change your appearance, you have to do it for the right reasons.

JOHN WHYTE: What do you see often lately? Is it mostly face-related stuff? And I have to ask you, because we kind of alluded to this on our last call: is it different for men versus women, in terms of what they bring?

DREW ORDON: Well, we see both. We see both the face and the body. And the face, it’s maybe because we see ourselves more on the screen. So that’s where the face comes in more. But in terms of the body, I mean mommy makeovers, liposuction, that Brazilian butt lift is still very, very popular.

JOHN WHYTE: What are dad makeovers?

DREW ORDON: More men are coming in all the time for Botox, for fillers too. Men for laser treatments. We have a laser for everything: firming skin, treating wrinkles, treating discolorations, red spots, dark spots. The next, more invasive area, men, they don’t like that extra fat they can carry around in their chest. Men, we get it. The abdomen. Minus the hips and thighs like women do. Liposuction is therefore very, very popular with men.

The way we do liposuction now is really high definition lipo sculpting, that we can really sculpt the abdomen to give you definition, external obliques, give you some muscle definition, so that has evolved a lot.

Many men choose to have their eyelids redone. They do not like the labels on the lower eyelids, and the skin and the tops, and then many men, that the neck begins to sag. They want to do something about it.

JOHN WHYTE: So plastic surgery has a role to play in improving our physical health, which can also have a positive and negative impact on our mental health.

I want to ask you, I mentioned that you are the host of The doctors. you have been with The doctors for a long time. What awaits you in the coming weeks?

DREW ORDON: Okay, well, the holidays are behind us. We’re back in the studio this week, the second half of season 14. I’m the host. Of course, we welcome many wonderful guests and co-hosts, like yourself, John Whyte. You have been with us, and it is always a pleasure to have you.

But more of the same. Updates on COVID. It always changes. Where we’re still dealing with aspects of mental illness in particular, what’s happening during COVID, as you mentioned.

And we continue – we do more things on fitness, nutrition.

We want to be the best we can be. We’re talking — I know you’re huge in preventative medicine. It’s one of your big things.

JOHN WHYTE: It’s time to take care of yourself. That’s what we all need to do now. Yeah.

DREW ORDON: Well, self-care also matters for your appearance and all the things that you and I advocate for your overall health. We know the big ones: it’s diet, exercise, sleeping well, trying to maintain a healthy weight. I think those are the big four, and they relate to how you look.

If you do all of these things, eat your fruits and vegetables, stay hydrated and manage your stress, get a good night’s sleep, exercise, it shows on your body and helps your complexion. It helps your complexion, all of it.

So it’s something you should do for your overall health. It’s getting better. It helps all body systems, including our skin and our appearance.

JOHN WHYTE: Dr. Ordon, host of The doctors. It’s always a pleasure to see you. Thank you for spending time with us today.

DREW ORDON: John, you’re the best. Really enjoy it. Good information, and I’m sure I’ll see you soon.

JOHN WHYTE: If you have any questions for Dr. Ordon or for me, please write to me. You can email me at [email protected]

Thank you for watching.

This interview originally appeared on WebMD January 28, 2022

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