- As was widely reported at the start of the pandemic, there was a worldwide shortage of personal protective equipment for medical practitioners, including masks, gloves, gowns, and more.
- As a result, many elective surgeries were put on hold.
- Elective surgery bans were removed in many states as COVID-19 cases began to decline in some states.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted virtually every life on the planet. It has infected millions, killed hundreds of thousands, and removed trillions of dollars from the worldwide economy. Indeed, broadly speaking, it appears as if virtually no industry has completely escaped its grasp, and that is particularly the case for any medical or medical-related field.
One such example is plastic surgery. You may not have realized it unless you were directly affected, but there is no question that the plastic surgery industry was damaged by the pandemic and its continued impacts.
Surgeries Put On Hold
The first and most obvious impact that COVID-19 had on plastic surgeries was the need to put these procedures on hold. The reason as simple as it was tragic: A shortage of personal protective equipment, or PPE. As was widely reported at the start of the pandemic, there was a worldwide shortage of personal protective equipment for medical practitioners, including masks, gloves, gowns, and more. This risked the health of patients and medical staff alike.
As a result, many elective surgeries were put on hold. This temporary hold on elective surgeries was designed to maintain stores of personal protective equipment only for absolutely necessary medical procedures. Of course, this resulted in plastic surgeries being put on hold as well.
The good news is that this problem seemed to go away – at least temporarily. Elective surgery bans were removed in many states as COVID-19 cases began to decline in some states. However, unfortunately, it appears that large chunks of the United States are experiencing a resurgence in COVID-19 rates. As a result, some states, such as Texas, are again reimplementing bans on plastic surgery. It is also possible that there will be new shortages in the future, which could result in additional delays in plastic surgery.
Changing Paperwork & Precautions
Many plastic surgeons have had to reevaluate their risk assessment procedures. In many doctors’ offices, patients are now asked a series of screening questions designed to determine if they may have COVID-19. These questions are not perfect, but they are designed to reduce obvious risk factors, such as displaying symptoms of COVID-19 and determining if someone has potentially traveled to a hot spot area.
Furthermore, there are different informed consent procedures. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has come out with a new informed consent document that details the potential risks of COVID-19 and makes sure that patients are aware that the potential exists to contract COVID-19 as a result of surgery.
A Surgical Backlog
As noted above, elective surgeries were put on hold during the worst of the COVID pandemic, and many states are still holding these surgeries once again. While some of these surgeries may ultimately wind up being canceled, the vast majority will not, and that means there will be a surgical backlog as doctors catch up. This will likely make it harder to schedule surgeries in the short and medium-term.
Some industries suffer more than others when times are tough from an economic perspective. Unfortunately, the United States is now in a recession, and other parts of the world have followed. The situation is obviously extremely unique and fluid, so it remains to be seen what the long term economic effects will be. However, thanks to unemployment and reduced demand across other arenas, the economy is suffering.
As a result, the plastic surgery industry may suffer from a downturn in demand. This is generally because most plastic surgery procedures are assumed to be intensive or expensive – both of which aren’t a great fit for the current economic climate. However, there are procedures like topical injections or hydrafacials that clients can pursue. As the country maneuvers through the pandemic, the plastic surgery industry can expect the demand to rebound. The uncertainty of the moment is the biggest hangup for many Americans; by marketing minor procedures in the moment, surgeons have a better chance of meeting consumer needs and also discussing how more intensive surgeries can still be performed safely.