Lip-filler? Eyebrow lift? Botox? Oh my! 

Through the rise of ‘Zoom University’ and ‘working from Zoom’, the pandemic’s increased video conferencing usage has offered a daily dose of staring at our reflections. And that may be fuelling a desire for cosmetic surgeries and tteatments operations, a recent study suggests. 

“I just wanted to feel good about myself,” said Alissa Elves, when asked why she decided to go through with multiple cosmetic procedures this year.

Here is Alissa Alves before her lip-filling procedure. [Photo courtesy Sarah Arseneault]

“I wanted to take care of my skin and prevent wrinkles, and the more I did Botox I liked it, and so I’ll continue to do it twice a year.”  

Elves, however, is not the only person to undergo a cosmetic procedure during the pandemic after looking at herself on camera more often.

An article published in the International Journal of Women’s Dermatology suggests that an increase in cosmetic procedures has or will occur because people are spending more time online and regularly seeing their images on platforms like Zoom.

The study found that 49.2 per cent of dermatologists and other practitioners said their clients often cited their appearance on video calls as a reason to seek a procedure.

The 21-year old Elves who works at Studio Me Hair Design in Ottawa has undergone multiple procedures over the year, from lip fillings, a lip flip, an eyebrow lift and Botox injections in her forehead and jaw. 

“I think everyone has been so confined this year and upset and dealing with their issues, that changing things about their appearance makes them happy in the moment,” she said. 

Despite only seeing the top half of each person’s body, webcam meetings result in each person’s face being displayed side-by-side, allowing people to compare themselves with one another, according to the study. 

Dr. Hedyeh Javidnia, a head, neck, and facial plastic surgeon at Aesthete MD in Ottawa, says that Zoom usage is definitely a factor in her clients’ interest in cosmetic procedures. 

“You are looking at your face [now] more than we ever have before,” she said. 

Javidnia, who is a fellow of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, said that the effect has definitely been noticeable throughout the pandemic. 

“When you’re in an office environment ... you never locate yourself, you’re sitting across the table from another person and you’re looking at them. But on Zoom your face is on the screen the entire time and you look at yourself more,” said Dr. Javidnia. 

Elves agreed that when she is on Zoom, she finds it hard to keep her attention off her own face. 

“It probably sounds so bad, but I only look at myself on Zoom calls,” Elves laughed. 

Studio Me Hair Design also offers small cosmetic procedures, and Elves said that at the beginning of the pandemic it was hard to see if Zoom was igniting an increase.

Now that safety restrictions have been lifted, she’s heard from a lot of clients that Zoom is a large factor for why they want a change. 

“At the salon, that’s what everyone says, like it wasn’t until they started looking at themselves in the Zoom meetings that they realized they needed a change,” said Elves.

"I can’t really quantify it ... but I certainly am hearing the reasoning why people come when I do my consultations with patients and yes, ‘looking at myself on Zoom’ comes up all the time." 

Dr. Hedyeh Javidnia, head, neck, and facial plastic surgeon

Javidnia also said that her practice has seen an increase in cosmetic procedures related to Zoom and other online video apps. 

"I can’t really quantify it ... but I certainly am hearing the reasoning why people come when I do my consultations with patients and yes, ‘looking at myself on Zoom’ comes up all the time," she said. 

Webcams can distort facial features, which could be a leading reason why people aren’t liking what they see in a video conference, the study said.

“With webcams often recording at shorter focal lengths, the result is an overall more rounded face, wider set eyes, broader nose, taller forehead, and disappearing ears obscured by cheeks,” the study said. 

Meghan Chapados, a recent master's of global heath graduate from McMaster University, who got laser hair removal and an eyelash lift last year, said she was also considering getting a preventative Botox treatment. 

“I found in the pandemic there was a lack of general control in your life, and at the beginning of quarantine, I was just looking for things to do that I had control over,” Chapados said.

Though she’s waiting to get her Botox done, Chapados says Zoom has affected the way she sees herself and others. 

“It’s so easy to just compare yourself to other people that are there. I’ve been self-conscious of my nose or wanted bigger lips, but at the same time it’s still unique to me as a person,” the 24-year old said.

Although she is trying to focus on her natural beauty and stay away from more procedures, Chapados said it’s important for everyone to do whatever makes them feel their best. 

Dr. Javidnia also mentioned how mental health is an important part of cosmetic procedures and that clients come to get away from feeling down in the pandemic. 

“Why I do what I do is to make people feel good, and that’s why people come here, to feel good,” the surgeon said. 

Elves agreed mental health impacted her own decision to undergo procedures, and it seems to make most clients at the salon more confident and happy too.

“When everyone has been so confined this year and upset and sad and dealing with their issues, changing things about their appearance makes them happy.”