Dr Lynn Jeffers says thanks to the COVID-19 vaccines, a new normal is starting to define itself with a higher demand continuing for plastic surgery and non-invasive procedures.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) has released the 2020 results of the organization’s annual procedure survey coupled with national consumer research reflecting trends during the COVID-19 era to help predict what 2021 will bring.   

The Society’s board-certified plastic surgeons reported they stopped performing elective surgical procedures for an average of 8.1 weeks in 2020 due to COVID-19, or 15% of the year, which mirrors the decline in the total number of procedures performed last year.  

ASPS recently gauged Americans’ perceptions of plastic surgery more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, analyzing responses from more than 1,000 women in a national survey fielded by market firm Equation Research, providing insights into how consumers feel about the category top treatments and their likelihood to pursue a plastic surgery procedure. 

During the pandemic, 11% of women surveyed indicated they are more interested in cosmetic plastic surgery or non-surgical procedures now than before COVID-19, and the figure is even higher among women who have already had surgery or a procedure – 24%, respectively. Also, 35% of women who have previously had at least one cosmetic surgical procedure or minimally invasive procedure plan to spend significantly or somewhat more on treatments in 2021 than in 2020.

“For more than a year, COVID-19 has largely confined people to their homes during quarantine and significantly impacted nearly every aspect of their lives,” says Lynn Jeffers, MD, MBA, FACS. “The pandemic isn’t over, but thanks to vaccines, a new normal is starting to define itself – and some surgeons’ offices that were closed or offered only limited services within the last year are seeing higher demand.”


While the first wave of pandemic demand saw a rush on facial procedures in response to a significant surge in Zoom calls and downtime for discreet recovery at home, the national survey results show that tummy tucks (22%) and liposuction (17%) are among the top procedures that women who are extremely or very likely to consider procedures within six months are seeking. The reason is attributed to weight fluctuation during quarantine, and more time to consider procedures long delayed due to time or cost.


While ASPS saw an overall 15% decrease in total number of cosmetic procedures in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the dip is largely on par with the amount of time practices were closed – and three of the top 5 procedures focused on the face. 

The top 5 cosmetic surgical procedures performed in 2020 were: 

  1. Nose reshaping (352,555 procedures)
  2. Eyelid surgery (352,112 procedures)
  3. Facelift (234,374 procedures)
  4. Liposuction (211,067 procedures)
  5. Breast augmentation (193,073 procedures)


In 2020, minimally invasive cosmetic procedures decreased slightly more than surgical procedures (16% vs. 14%) during stay-at-home orders, dropping for the first time in four years. 

Injectables continued to be the most sought-after treatments in 2020. ASPS member surgeons cited a significant uptick in demand during the coronavirus pandemic with current patients eager to reschedule missed neurotoxin and filler appointments, and new patients motivated for the first time to pursue the minimally invasive facial treatments they’d been considering – some even before last March.  

Among the 13.3 million cosmetic minimally invasive procedures performed in 2020, the top 5 were:

  1. Botulinum toxin type A (4.4 million procedures)
  2. Soft tissue fillers (3.4 million procedures)
  3. Laser skin resurfacing (997,245 procedures)
  4. Chemical peel (931,473 procedures)
  5. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment (827,409 procedures)


Nearly 7 million reconstructive procedures were performed in 2020, up 3% overall compared to 2019, despite the global pandemic’s impact on elective surgeries. Tumor removal is by far the most common reconstructive plastic surgery procedure with approximately 5.2 million procedures performed.

The Top 5 reconstructive procedures performed in 2020 were: 

  1. Tumor removal (5.2 million procedures)
  2. Laceration repair (386,710 procedures)
  3. Scar revision (263,643 procedures)
  4. Maxillofacial surgery (256,085 procedures)
  5. Hand surgery (206,928 procedures)

“While many reconstructive procedures were prioritized as COVID-19 restrictions eased across the country, I’m encouraged that the Society’s members were able to quickly attend to patients in need of these surgeries—ranging from burn and wound care to migraine to pediatric craniofacial procedures—to improve their quality of life,” says ASPS president Joseph E. Losee, MD, FACS, FAAP. 

Although not within the top five, breast reconstruction (137,808 procedures) saw a significant 29% year-over-year jump, a greater increase than any of the top five reconstructive procedures. 

“A major concern at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was continuing care for reconstructive patients,” said Losee. “Despite the year’s challenges, patients and care teams were not only able to move forward with procedure plans when deemed safe to do so, but, in terms of breast reconstruction, more women than ever are benefiting from today’s technologies and treatments.”