Covid-19 is upending the way we live, resulting in vast changes across all industries. Aesthetic medicine is no exception. Defined by its highly personal, one-on-one nature, the field has had to adopt rigorous distancing and augmented hygiene measures. As it turns out, some of these new protocols are much appreciated by doctors and patients alike and are likely here to stay.
Take drive-thru Botox, now available in Miami. It was the efficiency of a local drive-thru coronavirus testing site that inspired plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael Salzhauer, to put the idea into practice with Botox.
“Botox is one of the safest medications of the planet, says Dr. Salzhauer. It’s been given millions of times without any adverse effects. I’ve administered thousands of injections without any issue.” It is this safety record which makes neuromodulators a good fit for the drive-thru scenario according to Dr. Salzhauer, who is careful to stress that this arrangement, however, is not for the administration of fillers.
Plus, Botox can be injected while the patient is wearing a mask and for a change, the doctor waits for the patient, adds the plastic surgeon who is considering continuing this service indefinitely.
New York City dermatologist Dr. Doris Day, on the other hand, urges caution when it comes to aesthetic medical procedures because these are optional, after all. “If you’re concerned and don’t feel comfortable, then you should wait,” advises Dr. Day as ideally, “you need the doctor to be fully present and to be able to see all of you and to manage a bruise or make an adjustment.”
For Dr. Day’s practice, the future will be as touchless as possible meaning that the aim is to eliminate the need for patients to fill out forms while in the office. All necessary documents are to be completed online via a secure portal. And for the time being, adherence to social distancing and enhanced cleaning measures is scrupulous. To that end, the number of patients and staff have been minimized with only two patients seen per hour and only one person at the front desk answering phones and doing the check-in and check-out.
Hygiene practices include the wiping of surfaces in the morning, evening and in between every patient with an industrial sanitizer. Air purifiers are set to run 24/7. And patients are given a mouthwash that is 2% hydrogen peroxide so as to lower the viral load. Patients are also offered an antiseptic nasal swab in a further effort to reduce the risk of contagion. Staff likewise use the mouthwash and nasal swabs twice a day.
Additionally, masks are to be worn by patients and doctors as needed for evaluations and of course, a patient’s temperature is taken. Anyone with a temperature of 99.5 or higher will be asked to re-schedule. At Dr. Salzhauer’s facility, a patient’s temperature is taken in the building’s lobby before he or she even reaches the office. Social distancing and the wearing of personal protective equipment by both patients and staff are also firmly enforced.
The same holds true for Fort Lauderdale plastic surgeon, Dr. Humberto Palladino, who moreover, administers serology, i.e. antibody tests to his patients. Those with additional concerns, can resort to telemedicine advises Dr. Day. And telehealth seems to be the way of the future judging by its rising popularity.
Digital consultations were already standard practice for Dr. Palladino whose numerous out-of-town patients appreciate the convenience. After prospective patients submit information and photos online, the surgeon conducts an evaluation and a member of his staff quotes a price. This is followed by a video session. “We rarely see patients in the office,” reveals Dr. Palladino. “We see them for the surgery and for follow ups, but I believe that most patients started to appreciate it’s a more efficient way to practice when they don’t have to stop their day, come in for a consultation, wait in the waiting room, then speak to the doctor for 15 minutes, then talk to a coordinator and go back home to talk to their significant other to see if they’re going to have the procedure done. This back and forth is nonsense now. I think most plastic surgeons realize they better get into this online platform because it’s so efficient.”
And what about demand? Has the pandemic had an effect on the number or type of procedures requested? Dr. Palladino offers that he has scheduled more surgeries in the last two months of quarantine than since he opened his practice last June. The surgeon chalks up the increase in business to people having more time on their hands. For Dr. Day, who has also seen an increased enthusiasm for cosmetic procedures among her patients, it’s the “proof of life.” “It’s proof of will to survive and thrive that people care about how they look and want to put their best face and bodies forward,” posits the dermatologist. “It’s not vanity. I looked at my dad at 90. He still cared about being healthy and wanted to look good as a sign of that.”