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Pandemic Predictions


If the virus resurges in the fall, practices will have to, again, react. Hopefully, this time with more of an understanding of the process.

This is part 2 of a 2-part series

Part 1: The COVID-19 Comeback

Dr. Williams says he is concerned about the pandemic’s toll on the economy and how that might impact cosmetic practices.

“People don’t buy facelifts when they’re feeling broke,” Dr. Williams says.

But there’s a flip side to hard times like these. People want to feel better about themselves, so they’ll turn to pick-me-up solutions, like cosmetic procedures or cosmeceuticals. Max Factor, for example, started its makeup business during the Great Depression, according to Dr. Williams.

Another possibility is that people will be traveling less, spending more on other luxuries, like cosmetic procedures. Dr. Pozner predicts the summer months in South Florida will be busier than usual because, among other things, people who usually go out of state during the summer months will be around itching for something to do.

“There’s a lot of pent-up demand. People look at themselves on Zoom and want to get stuff done. And I’m surprisingly seeing a lot of younger patients come in door the first two weeks. I think they’re people who have moved out of the nest but came back because they live in New York or other areas. They’re coming in for breast reductions, liposuction, basic stuff,” Dr. Pozner says.

Lessons Learned

Boca Raton, Fla.-based hair restoration physician Alan Bauman, M.D., says a few things he did kept his office afloat and ready to reopen in June.

“I have 20 fulltime staff, and I kept payroll at 100% during the last two months,” Dr. Bauman says. “We did as much as we could with the existing staff, including making phone calls to existing patients to check on them and make sure they were doing ok and didn’t need anything. If they needed medications sent out to them or other treatments, we did that. We also innovated some at-home therapies that we didn’t have before specifically for them. And I put together a very robust enhancement to our virtual consultation process and rolled that out.”

Dr. Bauman says having a significant reserve available for emergencies allowed him to have the peace of mind that he could float the practice and staff for a certain amount of time, regardless of what financial help the practice might receive from the government. He planned ahead based on the governor’s orders for a reopening.

“Before mid-May, I moved all our consultations and surgeries to May for everyone who still wanted to have them on the books. During that time, I also did about 100 virtual consults,” Dr. Bauman says.

Predictions and Adjustments

It might be a couple of months before cosmetic practices are in the rhythm of the new normal, according to Dr. Williams.

Dr. Williams says the experience with the pandemic made him think less is more. He has put a big renovation of his nonsurgical practice on hold. And he will be less likely to purchase new equipment, unless it’s absolutely necessary.

“People have to tighten the belt,” Dr. Williams says. “I’m fortunate though. This is an absolute testament to why you should live a conservative life and run your business conservatively. We have very little debt. I learned back in 2001 and during 2008 that we didn’t have to borrow money. That’s my goal: not to have to borrow money to get through this. It’s easy for us to be diversional when things are going well.”

No one can say they’re totally prepared and feel completely safe in a face-to-face industry like cosmetic medicine, according to St. Louis, Mo., facial plastic surgeon L. Mike Nayak, M.D.

“A lot of very thoughtful people have put a lot of effort into how can we, like every other part of medicine, go through our due diligence and put processes in place that minimize the risk to where it is the lowest it can be,” Dr. Nayak says. “With that, I feel pretty confident. No matter what you do someone could come in and say there’s one more step that technically would make things safer. Where do we realistically draw the line? No one knows.”

Dr. Nayak was scheduled to speak in six countries in 2020 and travel for a medical mission trip to Vietnam, which he does every year.

He has canceled them all due to COVID-19.

The flip side of not traveling those 13 to 14 weeks during the year is that he’ll have the bandwidth to make up for lost time with surgical and nonsurgical cases.

“I think demand is unabated and higher than it has ever been,” Dr. Nayak says.

Dr. Prendergast predicts cosmetic demand will trend towards minimally invasive procedures and smaller surgical procedures that present less overall risk.

“This is also combined with the fact that there has started to be some burnout of the ‘fake beauty,’ and I am seeing patients looking to return to their more authentic self,” Dr. Prendergast says. “I think COVID has definitely shown a lot of us our authentic-self during this time and has taught us to focus a little bit more on things that matter most in our life like our family, our health and wellness.”

Professional organizations like AAFPRS will have to adjust to the new normal.

“We depend on the membership dues and meeting dues as our two primary sources of income. We’ve been trying to figure out how to operate on a shoestring. This is while we’re out there not making money and spending money trying to lobby for the relief packages that are being discussed to make sure that we are included and our stakeholders are represented,” Dr. Moran says.

If the virus resurges in the fall, practices will have to, again, react. Hopefully, this time with more of an understanding of the process.

“You can’t live your life thinking ‘What if?’ At this point, I think you just go about your business in the aesthetic field. I think there are some players who are overextended or might not be in good financial shape who might not be able to survive this, but we’ve seen this with recessions. Every time there’s an economic downturn, some businesses don’t survive. I think that the established guys will probably do well. I think if it comes back, we’ll have to face that day when it comes but, in the meantime, it’s just, do your job,” Dr. Pozner says.


Dover JS, Moran ML, Figueroa JF, et al. A Path to Resume Aesthetic Care: Executive Summary of Project AesCert Guidance Supplement-Practical Considerations for Aesthetic Medicine Professionals Supporting Clinic Preparedness in Response to the SARS-CoV-2 Outbreak. Facial Plast Surg Aesthet Med. 2020;22(3):125-151.

Unadkat SN, Andrews PJ, Bertossi D, et al. Recovery of Elective Facial Plastic Surgery in the Post-Coronavirus Disease 2019 Era: Recommendations from the European Academy of Facial Plastic Surgery Task Force. Facial Plast Surg Aesthet Med. 2020; epub ahead of print.

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