These days, many are worried about coronavirus. TV celebrity Kelly Ripa joked that worry about the pandemic is ‘written all over her face.’ In a Vanity Fair article, she spoke of suffering from “acute Botox deficiency syndrome.” Kelly’s plight is understandable. The COVID-19 pandemic put all elective procedures on hold for months, including plastic surgery and cosmetic injections. Now many states are allowing doctors to perform plastic and facial plastic surgery procedures again. If you’re starting to look older or less attractive, you might well wonder: Is plastic surgery, including a facelift safe during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Kelly Ripa’s funny remark illustrates another key point: A lot of truth is said in jest. In a fragile economy where jobs are on the line, how you look can make a real difference in your happiness and success. Business publications like Ivy League Cornell HR Review and news magazines like Newsweek have reported what a great deal of research has concluded: Attractive people are more likely to get hired, retained and promoted by companies big and small. Additionally, how you look has a big impact on how you feel about yourself and how others accept you. Clearly, if you need one, it makes sense to have a plastic surgery procedure, including a facelift. But before an effective coronavirus vaccine is widely available, is it safe?
Editor’s Note: Dr. Brian Machida is a highly experienced facial plastic surgeon. He has performed more than 4,000 facelifts and cosmetic surgical procedures, which is exceptional. Dr. Machida taught facial plastic surgery for years at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine. At his practice, STC Plastic Surgery in Ontario, CA, he also offers neck lifts, rhinoplasty, blepharoplasty and non-surgical procedures like microneedling, Botox, fillers, fat transfer, laser and Renuvion.
Is an office consultation for plastic surgery or a facelift safe during the coronavirus pandemic?
During the COVID-19 crisis, many continued to shop at supermarkets, drug stores and liquor stores. These retailers had steady customers all day. Extra cleaning could usually only be done once or twice a day. Even so, if people observed social distancing rules and wore masks, most did their shopping safely.
Plastic or facial plastic surgeons offices are considerably safer. We worked hard to control infection risks long before the coronavirus pandemic broke out. After all, many of us perform sterile procedures right in the office. Now we’ve stepped up our precautions to protect our patients and staff. Let me illustrate this by the infection control steps we take at my practice, STC Plastic Surgery in Ontario, California in the Inland Empire region east of Los Angeles.
How we keep visitors and facelift patients safe during the COVID-19 pandemic
Our key strategy is to minimize our patients’ potential exposure to infection. We schedule only one person at a time to reduce contact between visitors to our office. We ask patients to bring no more than one other person to their consultation and their procedure. We request that patients come to post-surgical follow up appointments alone. If people arrive early, we ask them to wait in their car until their scheduled appointment.
We bring patients directly into consultation or treatment rooms, bypassing the waiting room. That minimizes their potential exposure to anyone with the coronavirus. Naturally, we ask people to wear masks to our office. We begin by taking their temperature. We require patients to sign a form certifying that they have no COVID-19 risk factors.
Built-in protections against COVID-19 at our facility
Practices like ours combine a number of measures to guard patients against infection at the office. We now know that COVID-19 is primarily spread by breathing contaminated air. So, each of our rooms have air purification systems to kill airborne viruses. These systems include air purifiers with UV (ultraviolet) sterilization as well as air filters. We thoroughly sanitize treatment rooms between patients by cleaning all surfaces anyone might touch, including furniture, and using a UV sterilizer. This way, each patient that comes to our facility enters a very clean environment. You’re never exposed to anything touched by another person, including pens and clipboards, without it first being disinfected. Hand sanitizer is always available everywhere in our facility.
Each of our team members starts their workday with a temperature check. Everyone wears isolation gowns, hair coverings and double filtration masks and/or visors. We’ve suspended surgeries like rhinoplasties (nose jobs) to protect our staff from infection. Our office focuses now on facelift procedures. They’re less likely to expose anyone to COVID-19.
If a facelift is safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, should I have one?
The kind of precautions I’ve described here can make a plastic or facial plastic surgeon’s office one of the safest places to go. Your chances of getting a coronavirus infection should be greatly reduced. Of course, until a highly effective vaccine is widely available, there will always be a degree of risk. But as long as you work along with infection reduction procedures like these, you’ll be safer there than nearly anywhere else in the community.
You can enjoy the advantage of improving your appearance when most of your colleagues and friends are working from home. You can look better than you have in years. And when you see your workmates, relatives and friends in person once the pandemic is over, no one will know why you look so good! Having a facelift during the COVID-19 pandemic can be safe – and you can reap the benefits for years.