When we were ushered into lockdown back in March we knew we’d be missing our friends and family, but what many people didn’t expect what how much they would pine for aesthetic doctors and injectors. Over the past three months, they have either closed their clinics or have been offering medical emergency services or phone consultations, fielding a whole host of lockdown-related enquiries.
"Over lockdown, we dealt with a lot of people with skin concerns," says Dr Sophie Shotter of Illuminate Skin Clinic. "People with normally balanced skins were getting breakouts and dry patches, largely from spending too much time indoors. We did a lot of virtual skin consults to help these people. We also helped a lot of healthcare workers who were struggling with break-outs and irritation from wearing their PPE. About a month into lockdown the phone lines started being very busy for bookings, so we launched a priority booking club. The clinic diaries are now very busy through July and into August."
As to which treatments are on offer now that clinics are reopening, guidelines are open to interpretation, says dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto. “Decisions regarding when it is suitable to start aesthetic treatments such as laser, peels and micro-needling have been left to the discretion of the individual practitioner or clinic," she says.
The use of anything involving an aerosol spray may be off-limits as these can increase the spread of infections in the air and require extensive decontamination after use (the same reason that your dental hygienist is unlikely to be open for business right now and your dentist may be avoiding the very high-speed drills if possible).
Eye aesthetics specialist and oculoplastic surgeon Sabrina Shah-Desai explains, "I am not doing surgical lower lid blepharoplasties [eye lifts] as these require general anaesthetic and are not a priority given the risks of aerosol-generating procedures (AGP)." She is also not currently offering the skin tightening procedures Plexr and Plasma for the same reason.
To find out which are the most-requested post-lockdown treatments, we asked the practitioners; Zoom has a lot to answer for.
Botox and fillers
Botox and dermal filler came out top from many of the doctors we spoke to. The fact we’ve been staring at our faces for hours on end during video calls is the prime suspect. “Long hours on video calls and conferences have made people increasingly aware of their facial appearance,” says Anjali. “There has been significant interest in injectables such as Botox for forehead wrinkles alongside treatment of crows’ feet as well as dermal fillers used to volumise and plump the skin. Our clinic lists have been building significantly for these types of treatments.”
It’s not just the excessive Zooming that’s caused us to scrutinise our faces more; the seasonality of Botox injections (they wear off after three to four months) meant that many people, who were due for their post-Christmas top-up in April, missed out. “Most of my clients have their Botox just before Christmas," says Sabrina. "They’re now six months post-Botox and noticing their wrinkles much more."
Leeds-based aesthetic doctor Jaskaren Midha tells us that people have also been asking about Botox to help with headaches and tooth grinding, which have been symptomatic of the lockdown stress we’ve been feeling, which exacerbates these issues.
Profhilo , a treatment which injects hyaluronic acid into the face to rehydrate and re-texture crepey skin, has also been in demand, according to Dr Sophie Shotter. "We’ve had a lot of people booking our Ultimate Glow and Sculpt treatment, which is a combination of fillers and Profilho as they want to restore their shape and also get the hydration back in their skin."
Another of Sophie's most popular treatments at the moment is the Hydrafacial . People can indulge in this glow-giver regularly as it's needle-free and has zero down-time. It comprises of a lymphatic drainage massage, exfoliation by way of glycolic or salicylic acid solution, extraction, a blast of LED light to nix bacteria and boost collagen production and finally a serum ‘infusion’ to leave skin soft and smooth. Clients are likely to regularly indulge in this, so it's no surprise they've been missing their fix in recent months and are itching to book in.
Non-surgical body sculpting
Dr David Jack , who has a clinic on London's Harley Street, tells us he’s had several enquires and bookings of Forma, a radiofrequency treatment that tightens the backs of arms, abdomen and front of knees. He’s also seen a lot of interest in fat freezing treatment Cool Tech Cryolipolysis.“ I think the limited availability of gyms might be a driving factor in these choices,” he says.
“It seems that many people are considering a little medical assistance in tackling their potential lockdown weight gain,” adds Dr John Quinn who has seen an uplift of interest in body contouring procedures including Coolsculpting, Emsculpt and Exilis at his clinic in Bristol.
Leeds-based aesthetic doctor Jaskaren Midha said her most popular post-lockdown treatment has been fat dissolving injections.
Sabrina Shah-Desai, who specialises in the delicate and highly-skilled art of tear trough fillers, says these have shot into her top five most requested procedures again thanks to Zoom. "People are noticing how tired they look," she comments. Enquiries for eye lifts (currently on pause) are increasing for the same reason, she says.
There's more attention on our eyes than ever, especially at times when we cover the rest of our face with a mask. Dr Bibi Ghalaie , founder of cosmetic clinic British Aesthetics , has seen more bookings for under-eye rejuvenation for July and August than anything else.
“Dark circles and under-eye hollowness can stand out much more when only the upper third of the face is visible, so there is a focus to ensure the skin around the eyes looks fresh and radiant,” she says. “Tear trough or under eye fillers are my area of expertise and demand for it has significantly risen.”
Jaw and neck defining treatments
Months of increased screen time staring down at our phones and laptops on video calls is making us more aware of our jowls and potentially even causing them. Both Dr Sabrina Shah-Desai and Dr Jaskaren Midha commenting that treatments for tightening the jaw and increasing definition have seen a significant rise. "People have noticed their saggy neck with all the Zoom calls," says Sabrina.
Anti-ageing hand treatments
Our hands have taken a real battering during the pandemic; the constant hand washing can cause dryness and leave hands looking aged and more wrinkled. To address these issues Dr Sophie Shotter has introduced a new hand treatment. The Intense Hand Rejuvenation costs £600 and comprises a NeoStrata brightening peel to slough off dead skin followed by tiny injections of Volite Skin Booster, a hyaluronic acid injectable that hydrates deeply and plumps out lines. hyaluronic acid to fill lines and plump the skin. Her DIY version, the At-Home Hand Recovery Kit, costing £110 for six peel and mask applications, has been much in demand too.
Which treatments last the longest?
Focus now too is on the treatments that give you the most lasting results – popping in for a quick top-up is not as easy as it used to be. So which ones to consider? Sabrina names, Facetite, a radiofrequency treatment "for sculpting a sagging and chubby lower face, which can last five years," as well as surgical eye lifts (when available again). She also rates Ellanse a type of filler which is a 'biostimulator' (ie stimulates you to make your own new collagen and elastin) for the face, neck and hands. "One treatment lasts almost two years." A Silhouette Soft thread lift for brow or jowls can last 18 months, she adds.
"Fillers give the best longevity of all aesthetic treatments," agrees Dr Sophie Shotter. "They last up to 18 months depending on the area. Deeper chemical peels can also provide a beautiful rejuvenation in exchange for a little more downtime, but would save people coming for repeated trips for more superficial treatments"