The news about the coronavirus pandemic shows that many Americans have been vaccinated but there are still concerns about the Delta variant spreading throughout the country. Even with COVID-19 concerns continuing into the second half of 2021, there are still some people that want to have cosmetic surgery to achieve a younger appearance. Is it safe to have cosmetic surgery during the pandemic? Let’s take a look at a study that addresses this issue and see if there is a definitive answer to the question about having California cosmetic surgery during the pandemic.
According to a surgery conducted last year in Los Angeles, there was a high level of safety when it came to cosmetic surgery during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. The findings from the study even showed that the rate of contracting COVID-19 was rather small. Having said that, the lead authors of the study did warn the public this positive data should not make anyone complacent when it comes to taking precautions against coronavirus.
The study was conducted last year, and the results were published this year in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal. The study was conducted from late May to late July of 2020 by the Los Angeles Society of Plastic Surgeons. During that time period, board-certified plastic surgeons in Los Angeles County were asked to track the infection rate for their surgery patients. The plastic surgeons that participated in the study tested their patients before they had a cosmetic surgery procedure. These same patients were also tested again two weeks after the procedure to determine if they had developed any COVID-19 symptoms.
Patients that tested positive before the surgery had to postpone their desired cosmetic surgery procedure, However, the patients that were found to not have the virus had a risk of less than 1% of developing COVID-19 after having Los Angeles cosmetic surgery. This number was especially low considering the overall rate of positive COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County was between 4%-10% at the time.
John Diaz, MD, one of the authors of the study and a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, discussed the study in an interview. “We conducted this during the time that cases and infection rates were rising. Despite that, there were only a total of less than 1 percent, about 0.13 percent of patients, who tested positive for COVID in those two weeks after. None of those patients experienced complications or hospitalizations. So, the takeaway is elective plastic surgery poses, very, very minimal, if any, risk to patients.”
Steven Teitelbaum, MD, a Santa Monica plastic surgeon and a co-author of the study, added “Los Angeles was a hotspot at the time. Coincidentally, there was a huge surge of cases during the time of the study. So, knowing the outcome, it’s really remarkable, even during a very concerning period.”
The third author of the study is Robert Singer, MD, a plastic surgeon located in La Jolla, CA. He noted the fact that “Los Angeles is very diverse socioeconomically and includes all demographics and ethnicities. So, it’s not just a homogeneous population that we surveyed. There have been studies that looked at elective procedures since COVID, but this one was the first that really looked at just plastic surgical procedures.”
According to the authors of the study, the public can look to the Los Angeles study as a model that will determine what this means for the rest of the United States. In addition, the doctors say that The Aesthetic Society conducted a similar survey of 18,000 doctors on a national basis that found the risks to be just as low as the Los Angeles study. Both studies indicate the overall safety of patients having aesthetic treatments which also shows the high standards that surgeons have been trained to uphold when it comes to treating patients.
According to Dr. Teitelbaum, “There were only seven cases of people who got COVID within two weeks afterwards and they were all minor cases. It really shouldn’t be a surprise, right? Who do you think invented gloves, masks and gowns? We’ve spent our whole careers learning how to use them.”
He added, “Sometimes people will say aesthetic surgeries are nonessential, like it’s no different than an eyebrow wax or your hair colorist, but the difference is that we’re the experts in infection control. The whole concept of infection control came out of surgical infection control in the 19th century. So, for over 140 years, surgeons are the ones who have advanced this whole thing.”
Even though the findings of the study indicate that it is safe for patients to undergo California cosmetic surgery procedures such as Botox or breast augmentation, they should not relax when it comes to COVID-19 safety. They should perform the same precautions as they did throughout the height of the pandemic to remain healthy and free from coronavirus. By continuing to follow safety guidelines at all times, they can enjoy the changes made to their appearance through cosmetic surgery performed in California or elsewhere in the United States.