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Are Cosmetic Surgeries Allowed during COVID Pandemic?

The short answer is yes.  But it’s crucial that you understand the unique risks now involved and fully understand what your surgeon and you must do to minimize these risks.  There is still a lot of things we don’t know about COVID-19.  Are you protected once you are infected?  If so, how long does it last?  Though vast majority of deaths and severe illnesses affect the elderly and those with medical problems, why do we hear of many younger, healthy patients also get devastating complications or even death?  One thing that is very clear is this virus is easily transmissible.  Another confounding factor is many people may be asymptomatic when they are contagious.  So if someone is not exhibiting the classic symptoms we look for (ie, cough, fever, chills, loss of smell, etc), they may be unintentionally spreading the disease.   Hence the importance of wearing your masks!

Everyone in the world is acutely affected by the economic impact of this pandemic.  Businesses are closed.  Record unemployment in the United States makes recession inevitable.  The dilemma many people face is whether to not work and stay safe ,but risk losing their jobs.  However, unemployment can have disastrous consequences too.  These are truly difficult times.  That’s why I completely understand the pressure on our government (federal, state, and local) to open the economy again.  The goal is to slowly open the economy while minimizing risks of a second surge of infection.

The reason no cosmetic surgeries were allowed initially was to protect healthcare’s valuable personal protective equipment (PPE) that our front-line health care workers need to protect themselves while they tend to the sick.  Not only were cosmetic surgeries canceled, but other elective surgeries and procedures were also stopped.  These included orthopedic procedures, screening endoscopies, etc.  As the prohibition continued, hospitals and doctors rapidly began feeling the dramatic decrease in revenue.  They too began to risk going bankrupt, which would also add to the unemployment disaster.  That is why many governors, including Texas Governor Abbott, have allowed elective surgeries to resume, as long as certain criteria are met.  Here in Texas, doctors that perform cosmetic procedures (like Botox, fillers, facelifts, rhinoplasties, etc) are now resuming these procedures after getting approval from their respective society leadership.

We can now legally resume offering cosmetic procedures and surgeries such as Botox, Juvederm Voluma and other fillers, laser resurfacing, rhinoplasties (or nose jobs) , blepharoplasties (eyelid surgery), facelift, and other surgeries.  However, the way we do these will change dramatically in light of the many unknowns of COVID.  The primary duty is to ensure patients’ safety as well as the healthcare staff.  You will see many common processes when you visit doctors now.  One is careful screening of patients, along with temperature checks.  Masks will be likely required.   More frequent cleaning and disinfection of high touch areas will have to be implemented.  In past, when I perform injectables like Botox or lip fillers or cheek enhancement with Voluma, I just disinfect your face and wear gloves while I inject.  Now, I will be doing a more thorough disinfection of your face.  I’ll still wear gloves, but will also have to wear a mask & eye protection.  The challenge comes if you want lip fillers, or jawline contouring, or cheek injections because your mask will be in the way.

Surgeries like rhinoplasty or facelift require more intensive measures.  The very first priority is to stress to you is that COVID-19 can turn a routine recovery into a disaster.  Because we don’t know much about COVID-19, we always fear the worst case.  We know patients who get very sick from COVID-19 may require intubation.  Many then have a poor prognosis; some may die.  If you’re considering cosmetic surgery, you must understand that if you contract the virus in the postoperative period, you may get very very sick from COVID and then require hospitalization.  A recent surgery is considered a major stress on your immune system.  It’s conceivable that if you contract the virus without having surgery you would experience the common symptoms reported and feel very sick but recover fine.  But if you had surgery and you get the virus, you will have a severe illness.  I have been listening to various webinars with international experts.  The common theme was no one knows the best way to mitigate the risks.  So we can only try things that we believe will give us best chance to minimize the risks.  One key requirement is testing.  Almost everyone agrees that we need to test all asymptomatic patients who want surgery.  IF you’re positive, there is no way any good surgeon will then proceed.  Out of all elective surgeries, cosmetic surgeries are the most elective.  Also, many will demand that you self-quarantine after the test until the surgery date, then again self-quarantine for 7-14 days postop.   Staying at home after surgery is easy because you would have had to do that anyway in normal times.  But it’s crucial you stay at home before surgery.  The reason is even if your preop COVID test is negative, there is a real risk you may then contract the virus after the test if you’re not careful.  Also, there is a definite false negative rate for these tests (ie it was negative but you really had the virus).

The COVID -19 virus is very scary.  But I also understand why many people still want to get cosmetic treatments or surgeries.  The world is slowly returning to opening businesses.  This slow down in opening may be a time you want to take advantage for recovering from surgery.   I believe we can do both—offer desired services while minimizing the risks to your safety as much as feasible.  The best advice is to see a board certified facial plastic surgeon, body plastic surgeon, or dermatologist for an honest careful evaluation to see if you are a good candidate during these unusual times.

For more information about San Antonio cosmetic surgery, please visit our interactive website at Dr. Kenneth Yu Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is a qualified team of experts serving the San Antonio, Texas area. To schedule a consultation, please contact our Concierge Patient Coordinator at (866) 574-1719 or