Assessing the Impact of COVID-19 on Head and Neck Aesthetic Surgery Search Interest
Christopher James Didzbalis, Joseph Weisberger, Bao Ngoc N. Tran, Edward E. Lee
Rutgers New Jersey Medical School
Introduction: The global pandemic that began in early 2020 has reshaped many components of modern healthcare practice. Prior to the start of the pandemic, research was beginning to demonstrate the impact of self-facing cameras, selfie images, and webcams on patient interest in head and neck aesthetic surgery. We sought to determine temporal changes in patient interest in aesthetic surgery of the head and neck as compared to the rest of the body as a result of COVID-19 and the increased use of web conferencing and other forms of telecommunication.
Methods: The 2020 Plastic Surgery Trends Report produced by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons was utilized to identify the 5 most common aesthetic surgical procedures performed on the head and neck and rest of body during the year 2019: blepharoplasty, facelift, rhinoplasty, neck lift, cheek implant, breast lift, liposuction, tummy tuck, breast augmentation, breast reduction. Google trends filters, which provide relative search interest for over 85% of internet searches, were applied and interest from January 2019 through April 2022 was obtained. The relative search interest was plotted as a function of time for each term, as well as the mean interest for all head and neck procedures and rest of body procedures.
Results: Our findings demonstrate a sharp decline in online aesthetic surgery interest in March 2020, coinciding with the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic for both the head and neck and rest of the body. Search interest began to increase shortly after March 2020 and reached values greater than during the pre-pandemic year (2019) during 2021 for rest of body procedures. During the months following March 2020, there was a brief, sharp increase in search interest for both rhinoplasty, neck lift and facelift, while patient interest in blepharoplasty increased gradually. There was no increase in search interest for procedures of the head and neck as a result of COVID-19 when utilizing the mean values of the included procedures, although current interest has returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic caused a disruption in normal trends in aesthetic surgery interest, with a sharp decline in search interest in March 2020. Following this decline, there was a sharp increase in rhinoplasty, facelift, neck lift and blepharoplasty interest. Patient interest in blepharoplasty and neck lift has remained elevated as compared to 2019. Interest in rest of body procedures has returned to and even surpassed pre-pandemic levels.
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