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Why are Cosmetic Procedures Prohibited During COVID-19?

The novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented disruption to the entire world’s way of life.  When I see the impact on social life, loss of jobs, and not to mention the tragic loss of thousands of lives, I recall the various disaster movies we have seen…before quickly realizing everything is real.  It is a bit surreal at times.  The number one priority for everyone is to do our part to flatten the curve because there is no vaccine.  We have to flatten the curve in order not to overwhelm the healthcare system.  Unfortunately, we’re already seeing signs of that in New York City and New Orleans.  Whatever your political leanings, now is not the time to place blame. We all have to comply with government mandates to maximize social distancing.  One consequence is the closure of swaths of industries, including the medical industry.  I believe every state has prohibited elective procedures, and cosmetic procedures are the most elective.   But some have asked why can’t Botox or fillers still get done?

Despite the orders to limit gatherings, we still see people ignoring those rules.  I’m sure you have seen clips of party goers in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, or the throngs of people at Florida beaches.  Restaurants now can’t allow patrons to dine, in order to comply with orders prohibiting gathering of more than 10 people.  But they can still do delivery and curb side take outs.  Some people may wonder why they can’t still go get their laser treatment, Botox or fillers if there are limited people at the office.  The major rationale for prohibiting elective procedures is the need to preserve valuable personal protective equipment (PPE) that is quickly used up by hospitals as they try to deal with the pandemic.  Another important reason is the uncertainty of how this COVID virus spreads.  We now have good evidence that the virus can be spread if someone is asymptomatic.  That person will then infect others inadvertently.  And there is evidence that this virus is very contagious, even more than the common flu.  While the common flu may infect 1.2 people, the COVID is suspected to have an infectious rate of 2.3-3.  So even if someone is feeling fine, going to get Botox or Voluma may be risky.  Remember, cosmetic treatments require the doctor or injector getting very close to you.  Are you willing to expose yourself to this virus even if gloves or masks are used?  The dilemma is no one, at this time, understands the behavior of COVID.  We are still collecting data and conducting research.  It will take time to fully understand how the virus behaves, as well as developing effective treatments.  With deaths climbing in the U.S., particularly in New York City, we must be sensitive to these disasters and the extreme stress hospitals and healthcare workers are dealing with.  Doing Botox or lasers now is insensitive.

I have also heard many people desiring cosmetic surgeries during this shut down.  I can see why some may want surgery.  They are now forced to stay at home for several weeks; why not take this time to get a nose job or facelift?  The major reason is again related to protecting the hospitals as much as possible.  Elective procedures also must use valuable PPE, which are so important to fighting this virus.  Even if your surgeon can do cases in his/her own facility, I still think that is very risky.  Every surgery, no matter how simple, carry small risk of complications.  If someone is unlucky and develops a major complication, that will require admission to a hospital.  Now that hospital must treat the post op cosmetic surgery patient and take time valuable resources (personnel, PPE, etc).  It looks very bad when hospitals are trying to save lives from COVID and their job is complicated by taking care of someone who did not have to have surgery during this crisis.  Finally, certain cosmetic surgeries carry higher risk of transmitting the virus.  For example, nasal surgeries like rhinoplasty, septoplasty, or sinus surgeries carry very high risk of transmission.

I understand the desire to get your Botox or filler treatments.  There is also motivation on doctors’ side to provide these services because we have businesses to run and need revenue.  But, at this time, we all must do the right thing and postpone all elective procedures until we definitively see the curve flatten.   At some point, our government—with guidance from experts—will start to reopen up the economy.  Until then, we all must do our personal duty to comply with stay at home and social distancing rules.  Since a vaccine won’t be available for at least a year, the ONLY way we can combat this virus and return to some normalcy is to follow social distancing measures.  In meantime, don’t forget to stay active by exercising.  There are a lot of cool shows and movies on Netflix.  Finally, take advantage of this time to connect with your family.

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