By Sophie Williams BBC News
BBC.COM-Image copyright Getty Images Image caption A number of clinics around the world say they are seeing a rise in people getting surgery
A number of cosmetic surgery clinics around the world are reporting a rise in people getting treatment during the coronavirus outbreak as they can hide their treatment behind a mask or work from home.
Despite the virus shutting businesses across the globe, a number of plastic surgery clinics have remained open, adopting stricter measures such as Covid-19 tests and more frequent cleaning.
Clinics in the US, Japan, South Korea and Australia have all seen a rise in patients coming in for treatment including lip fillers, botox, face lifts and nose jobs.
“I decided to get procedures done during quarantine because it allowed me to heal at my own pace,” Aaron Hernandez, who had lip fillers and buccal (cheek) fat removal in Los Angeles, told the BBC.
“Getting my lips done is not something that all men tend to do, so some people might find it different. Therefore I preferred to stay home and recover fully and people not know what work I had done once I’m out.”
The last time he had the procedure done before quarantine, he said, he had to go out in public for work and his lips were “extremely swollen and bruised”.
Rod J Rohrich, a cosmetic surgeon based in Texas, said he was seeing a lot more patients. “Even more than I would say is normal. We could probably operate six days a week if we wanted to. It’s pretty amazing,” he told the BBC.
He said usually people would have to factor in recovery at home when considering surgery but now that many people are working from home, this doesn’t need to be considered.
“They can actually recover at home and also they can have a mask that they wear when they go outside after a rhinoplasty or facelift. People want to resume their normal lives and part of that is looking as good as they feel.”
It’s not just the US that is seeing a rise in patients during the outbreak.
South Korea, well-known for its cosmetic surgery, was one of the first countries to see cases of the virus. Instead of enforcing a nationwide lockdown, it had a social distancing plan with people encouraged to work from home.
Cosmetic clinics have seen a decline in foreign visitors however locals have been coming to clinics for treatments. A number of clinics chose to offer a discount to locals.
A 54-year-old middle school teacher who had eyelid surgery in February told Joongang Daily that “every plastic surgery clinic I visited was packed”.
BK Hospital in Seoul told the BBC that at the beginning of the pandemic, people were nervous but more locals had begun to come to the clinic.
“Patients started to feel safe and comfortable to have surgery, despite Covid-19. The number of patients is increasing continuously,” the spokesperson said.
“Despite coronavirus, the number is estimated to increase by half compared to the same season last year.”
Inquiries from foreign patients have also increased, the spokesperson said.
“The number of online enquiries has increased significantly since there has been an opportunity to have online consultations and get prepared in advance for a trip once travelling restrictions will be lifted.”
Japan has not had an official lockdown, however Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a state of emergency which lasted until 31 May. People were asked to stay at home.
Despite this, clinics also saw a rise in patients wishing to get treatment.
The surge prompted Japan’s Association of Aesthetic Medicine to warn that cosmetic treatments were “not essential for many people”. It asked people to stay away from surgeries to “prevent further spread of the virus”.
“As an outpatient plastic surgery clinic equipped to provide same-day procedures, we have definitely seen an influx of patients who desire to have treatments done during this period,” said Michelle Tajiri, clinic co-ordinator at Bliss Clinic in Fukuoka.
“The main reasons are that they are off work and downtime isn’t an issue, as well as the fact that everyone is wearing masks and thus any facial procedures can be easily disguised.”
For Mr Hernandez, surgery during the outbreak was perfect timing. “It definitely allowed me more time to heal. I was able to take medication I probably would not have been able to take if I was driving and I was able to ice my lips and face area more.”