- When the pandemic canceled shoots and concerts, celebrities flocked to plastic surgeons’ offices.
- The downtime allowed for invasive procedures like face-lifts, which could be concealed by masks.
- Concerns about catching COVID-19 didn’t hold famous people back.
After a tumultuous few years, the entertainment industry is starting to get back to normal. Canceled movie shoots have resumed, long-delayed red-carpet premieres are taking place, and concert tours have been rescheduled.
But as they once again fill multiplexes and stadiums, fans might notice their favorite stars looking especially refreshed. Plastic surgery has experienced a nationwide boom, and with their schedules suddenly clear, celebrities have been eagerly visiting doctors for more — and more invasive — procedures.
“COVID and the respective closures and public restrictions have created windows for busy professionals to squeeze in procedures they’ve been wanting for years,” said Dr. Steven Williams, a board-certified cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon in Dublin, California. The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery reported that 70 percent of its member surgeons saw an increase in bookings during the first year of the pandemic.
From small nose “tweaks” to full-on face-lifts in their 40s, here’s what famous faces have been getting up to under the knife — and why they didn’t let even pre-vaccine fears of COVID-19 get in their way.
‘Nobody knows I had it done’
From the moment TV shoots started being postponed or canceled due to the pandemic, Dr. Deepak Dugar, a board-certified rhinoplasty surgeon in Beverly Hills, California, saw actors and reality stars inquiring about surgeries.
One of Dugar’s patients is a television star who went in for “just a little tweak” to her nose. “I love my new nose — and nobody knows I had it done,” said the star, who requested anonymity out of concern that being open about her surgery could cost her work.
Other celebrities have been more vocal about their pandemic-era surgeries. The former “Dance Moms” star Abby Lee Miller, who has 4.1 million followers on Instagram, said the pandemic presented a great opportunity to get
under her arms, where she had loose skin from a 100-pound weight loss during her 2017 stint in prison.
“To be honest, the saggy skin was bothering me so much that I didn’t want to wait any longer,” Miller told Insider. “I’m so happy I had it done.”
Stars were more willing to get major procedures
Before the pandemic, Dr. Jay Calvert’s celebrity clients would be “reticent and scared” when he suggested a major face-lift. But these days, “they have been all-in,” said Calvert, a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills. (Like all the doctors interviewed by Insider, he declined to discuss clients by name, citing patient confidentiality.)
Masks have in part made it all possible. These days, if a celebrity wants to run an errand while still recovering from a face-lift, their face and identity can be shielded by their COVID-19 protection, hiding any evidence of incisions or bruising. That’s especially important to stars who are frequently followed by paparazzi.
Dr. Michael Newman, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, also said he’s seen a rise in demand for face-lifts, noting that he “had several 50-something celebrities rush in as soon as filming for their shows was put on hold.”
Calvert said he’s seeing patients even younger than that. Previously, celebrities would wait until they reached their 50s to go under the knife, he said, but since the pandemic hit, he said he’s performed face-lifts on people in their 40s and even late 30s. The new standard is “definitely before 50,” he said.
Bodies are getting worked on, too
While some clients got their faces tweaked, others used COVID-19 downtime to give their bodies a boost.
In addition to face-lifts for 40-something actors, Drs. John Layke and Payman Danielpour of the Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery Group said they’ve seen a big rise in pop stars, particularly those in their 20s and 30s, seeking breast-augmentation procedures.
And it’s not just women who are lining up to give their bodies a boost. Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, a cosmetic dermatologist in New York City, said that men have become a significant part of his practice, as closed gyms drove demand for minimally invasive liposuction and Emsculpt procedures.
Across the country, back in Beverly Hills, the plastic surgeon Dr. Ariel Ourian has seen similar demand, as millennial male clients sought “high-definition” liposuction, in which a six-pack is etched into the abdomen.
“I performed a record number of invasive surgical procedures on my celebrity clients during the pandemic who may simply not have had the time to do it otherwise,” Ourian said.
Some surgeons are concerned that their clients might be hiding the secrets behind their six-packs a little too well. Dr. Steve Fallek, a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York and New Jersey, reminds people to be skeptical of what celebrities post on Instagram.
“A famous actress credited a great workout program for her
on Instagram,” Fallek said. “But she really had liposuction with abdominal etching.”
Concerns about COVID-19 transmission didn’t hold celebrities back
Early in the pandemic, before vaccines were readily available, many celebrities opted to have their initial consultations virtually, doctors said. But concerns about contracting COVID-19 in a medical setting or while recovering from surgery didn’t keep them from moving forward with their procedures.
Miller, who survived Burkitt lymphoma in 2019 and now uses a wheelchair, said the thought of having surgery with existing health conditions amid a pandemic gave her “a little concern.”
“But the procedure I had was common,” said Miller, who took a PCR test before the procedure and recovered without contracting the virus. “Plus, I know the doctor was following all the COVID protocols.”
Not every star, or doctor, was so lucky. Newman had a famous patient contract the virus just after her surgery — which was especially challenging because she had to isolate herself from her husband, her primary caretaker. Ourian had a celebrity patient who came down with the virus a week after a rhinoplasty; he had to conduct follow-up appointments virtually until the quarantine period was over.
The plastic-surgery community also mourned the loss of one of its own: Dr. Payman Simoni, a prominent Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, died in January 2021 at 50 after contracting COVID-19 from a patient who came to his office for a lip procedure.
Even now, providers are at risk, as some celebrities choose to remain unvaccinated. “Many of my clients have purposely avoided the vaccine for fear it would affect their performance — singers, for example,” said Dr. Alexander Zuriarrain, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Miami.
Longer recoveries — from the comfort of a yacht
While pandemic-related openings in celebrities’ busy schedules might be filling up, doctors say their patients relished getting to take advantage of their downtime.
In the pandemic, “there is more surgery being performed at one sitting, which lengthens a recovery but produces more dramatic results,” Zuriarrain said. “Due to celebrities’ changes in schedule, they are more willing to have a longer recovery.”
After his concert tour was canceled, one of Zuriarrain’s famous clients even got to recover from the comfort of his yacht.
“He felt it was a great way to get away from the paparazzi and the public,” Zuriarrain said.