In our new normal, face masks and facial coverings are here to stay — at least for the foreseeable future. With that comes a variety of shifts. We’re waving to dogs on the street, smizing like Tyra taught us, and focusing our makeup looks on our peepers rather than our pouts when we’re out and about.
So, when it comes to aesthetic medicine, will eyes be the new lips? We asked top oculoplastic and plastic surgeons if — in light of COVID-19 — they expect to see a shift away from patients requesting lip treatments in favor of surgical and non-surgical eye-related procedures.
All About Eyes
It’s important to acknowledge the obvious: eyes have always been a popular area to treat with invasive and non-invasive cosmetic procedures. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) 2018 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report, eyelid surgery was among the top five most popular cosmetic surgery procedures with more than 200,000 performed — and that doesn't even factor in the minimally invasive treatments (think: neurotoxin injections, dermal fillers, thread lifts, etc.) that are used to rejuvenate the eye and brow.
In addition to being one of the most prominent features of the face, the eye area also happens to be one of the first to show signs of aging. “The eyes have thin skin, which makes them more prone to fine lines and wrinkles,” says Jennifer Levine, MD, a board certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon in New York City. As such, the under-eye area is often a concern, even for young people. “Many patients seek correction of dark circles, under-eye bags, and under-eye hollows,” she says.
Browsing Around: Eyelid Surgery
With elective surgeries and procedures resuming in many states following COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, surgeons are noticing renewed interest in eye-related consultations for patients old and new. “More patients are wanting to do surgery because everybody's working from home,” says Jessica Lattman, MD, a board certified oculoplastic surgeon in New York City. “This means they're able to take the time now, whereas in the past, I felt like the recovery period was always kind of an obstacle for a lot of working people.”
New York City-based board certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dara Liotta, MD, agrees. “Already, upper eyelid procedures and brow lifts are much more requested,” she says, noting that the upper lid is trending more popular than the lower lid and tear trough due to what’s visible while wearing a mask or face covering. “I have three patients scheduled for rhinoplasty and chin implant surgeries in June, who have called to add on upper eyelid blepharoplasty,” she says.
Dr. Liotta expects this demand for upper eyelid blepharoplasty to remove excess skin from the lid and open the eyes to continue to rise. The procedure, which costs around $8,500 (depending on your surgeon and geographic location), takes about an hour, is performed under IV sedation, and involves a week to 10 days of downtime, she says. Best of all, the results are permanent.
While the procedure can have a rejuvenating effect on anyone, Dr. Lattman has so far seen an uptick in one particular patient population: working men. “They have time to work from home and recover,” she explains. “They can do things by phone; take a few days off; [adjust] the lighting on the Zoom call. There’s less of a barrier for the recovery time.”
Browsing Around: Non-Surgical Eye Procedures
But it’s not just eyelid surgeries that have people hitting up their plastic surgeons. Minimally invasive procedures targeting the eye and brow area are also enjoying a renaissance. Both Dr. Lattman and Dr. Liotta say they’ve seen an increase in requests for Botox® around the eyes, brows, and forehead.
Not just for treating crow’s feet, neurotoxins like Botox®, Dysport®, Jeuveau®, and Xeomin® can be used to mimic the effects of a brow lift. “Precise injections of neuromodulators, such as Botox®, to the muscles of the forehead and the area around the eyelid can create a lifting effect to the brow,” says Ryan Neinstein, MD, a board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon in New York City.
Similarly, Dr. Liotta performs a so-called Botox® brow lift to elevate and shape the eyebrow. The procedure, which only takes a couple minutes, costs $1,000 to $1,200 and has no downtime. “Results are seen in around a week after injection and last about four months,” she says. As an alternative to Botox®, Dr. Levine also uses a thread lift to add arch amphasis. “The cat-eye or fox-eye look has been seen on many celebrities, such as Kendall Jenner or Bella Hadid, and patients request this type of effect,” she adds.
When it comes to minimizing the appearance of dark circles, hollows, and deep tear troughs that leave you looking fatigued — even after a full night’s sleep — under eye filler is the way to go. “Fortunately, we are now able to improve the appearance of these areas dramatically with the injection of hyaluronic acid (HA) fillers, the same family of products which are used to plump the lips,” Dr. Neinstein says. “The added volume changes the reflection of light which helps eliminate dark shadows.”
Newer technologies like microneedling and radiofrequency, meanwhile, can help tighten the skin of the lower eyelid and upper cheek. “This causes the collagen in the skin to tighten and reduces excess laxity,” Dr. Neinstein says. Lasers and chemical peels can also be used to treat and improve skin tone and texture in the eye area, he adds.
There are steps you can take at home, too. Stepping up your skincare regimen with an eye serum or cream can help diminish the look of creasing and crepiness around the eye. One organic product we like of late: Leaf People Peony Green Tea Eye Serum, which also calms redness and reduces puffiness.
The eyes may be having a moment, but Dr. Levine maintains that lips are still quite popular — despite the use of masks. “There is also a new lip product on the market, Restylane® Kysse, that has generated a lot of interest,” she says, noting that patients are now able to hide the immediate swelling and bruising that accompanies lip filler injections with a face covering.
Even so, Dr. Liotta says she wouldn’t be surprised if patients hold off on pout-perfecting procedures for a little while. “Lip injections have the added problem of requiring mask removal,” she says. “I wouldn’t be surprised if some patients hold off on lip injections for now.” Plus, they’re expensive, temporary, and will be covered more often than not, she adds.
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