Despite non-essential surgeries and aesthetic services being put on hold during the pandemic, AAFPRS members note that demand for non-essential and aesthetic services is now higher than ever.

The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) has released its 2020 annual member survey results. The AAFPRS digs deep into exactly how COVID-19 impacted facial plastic surgery trends, consumer influences and the professional aesthetic community. The survey was conducted in December 2020 by ACUPOLL Precision Research Inc through an online survey from a select group of the organization’s 2,200 members.

According to the AAFPRS members, here’s what changed.

Over the past few years, use of non-invasive procedures to forestall the signs of aging have been steadily on the rise. The pandemic flipped the switch, creating a surge in surgical demand not seen in recent years. Despite the fact that many non-essential surgeries and aesthetic services were put on hold for months during the pandemic, AAFPRS members note that demand is now higher than ever.

A full 70% of AAFPRS surgeons report an increase in bookings and treatments over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 9-in-10 facial plastic surgeons indicating an increase of more than 10%. Surgical procedures are the most common procedures as part of this upsurge, perhaps cancelling out any decreases that might have resulted from the economic crisis and lockdowns. 

Approximately 96% of AAFPRS members who experienced higher patient volume, indicate that it is because men and women have more time and flexibility to recover from treatments due to social distancing and the benefits of working from home. Rhinoplasty (78%), facelifts (69%), eye lifts (65%) and neck lifts/treatments (58%) have reportedly increased most notably, likely due to more time spent on digital devices and an unprecedented virtual lifestyle. 

For the first time in years, AAFPRS members report non-surgical treatment demand decreasing in 2020. The average amount of minimally invasive procedures was down by 9% compared to 2019, driven by a decline in skin treatments (down 29%) and fillers (down 8%). Neurotoxins and Botoxremained consistent with 2019 demand. Supporting this, three-quarters of the work done by AAFPRS members in 2020 was facial plastic surgery.


AAFPRS members point to the “ZOOM effect” as a major contributing factor in changing behaviors (according to 83% of respondents), while patients having more disposable income due to not spending it elsewhere is a strong second (64%) in patients changing behaviors. 

“These factors, combined with masks, less travel and people being able to work from home without missing a beat in their career has led to a marked increase in surgical procedures,” states AAFPRS president, Paul J. Carniol, MD. “Last year presented completely uncharted territory for our industry, and these statistics point to a strong desire to look and feel confident that has not wavered despite major lifestyle changes and obstacles.” 

The AAFPRS identified the “selfie-awareness” trend from early last year, and is now spotlighting an evolution of this hyper-awareness of one’s own on-screen image; only this time, it’s live and via video. Deemed “ZOOM dysmorphia” in a recent study published in the AAFPRS’ journal Facial Plastic Surgery & Aesthetic Medicine, the pressures of a virtual lifestyle had a huge impact on the way we view ourselves, according to AAFPRS facial plastic surgeons. 

While staring at yourself on screen all day became normalized in 2020, it follows that people asking for eyelid procedures to look less tired was highlighted as trending by 56% of surgeons. 

The annual member survey also finds that many patients are still after that real-life filtered look, with 75% of surgeons detailing patients seeking cosmetic procedures to look better in selfies – up 33% overall since the AAFPRS first identified this trend in 2016.


The results also found that women continue to be the most likely patients for facial plastic surgery, with neurotoxins (72%), fillers (61%, and rhinoplasty (52%) topping the 2020 wish list. Hair transplantation is the only procedure for which men far surpass women. While most neurotoxin/Botoxtreatments were for female patients, last year saw a 27% increase in AAFPRS members reporting these injectables as one of the top three treatments for male patients. 

Otoplasty (surgical reshaping of the outer ear) has the most gender equality, with 55% of survey participants saying the procedure is gender balanced. Coincidentally, “We’ve been hearing from a lot of patients that ears are a feature that stand out to them on video conferencing calls,” shares Carniol.  

To read the full AAFPRS survey, visit the website.