plastic surgery singapore
"People are feeling low following the pandemic, so it's not surprising that many are turning to aesthetic treatments to make themselves feel good," Dr. Leo said.
Marcus Chung / Getty Images
  • Across the world, the "Zoom Boom" has created an uptick in demand for procedures like Botox and fillers.
  • In Singapore, people are spending up to SG$1,800 for jaw Botox to create a slimmed-down face.
  • The chance to recover at home while still working is also affecting demand, one surgeon said.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

When Singapore went into lockdown in March 2020, a Singapore surgeon recently told Insider, he feared the closure of the country's borders would mean the end of his business. The lack of tourists also stood to create a huge shortfall for the country's plastic surgeons: Singapore recorded $994 million Singapore dollars ($750 million) in medical tourism in 2014, the last time official figures were released.

But, in a trend also seen in countries across the world, a shortage of demand for plastic surgeons wasn't to be the case. In fact, many of Singapore's plastic surgeons are now busier than ever. One Singapore surgery clinic announced a 10% increase in new patients booking cosmetic procedures compared to before the pandemic.

"I would say it's a busy time for plastic surgeons in Singapore. I have a full diary almost every day," said Dr. Leo Kah Woon, who was previously the Secretary for the Singapore Association of Plastic Surgeons. "It's a happy problem for us."

Dr. Leo, who has a clinic in the upscale area of Orchard Road, said he has seen an escalation in virgin faces – patients who had shown no interest in treatments before. He said that after months of conducting meetings via video calls, patients started to find parts of their faces they didn't like in the video thumbnail.

More than a year after Singapore closed its borders to short-term visitors and as the city-state allows ever more people to return to offices, Insider spoke to Singapore-based plastic surgeons to find out how the requests they are fielding from their clients have changed. Insider also spoke to four Singapore-based people about their evolving plastic-surgery habits. Some requested that their identities be withheld to protect their privacy.

'On Zoom you really examine yourself'

While one surgeon told Insider about a "wild upswing" in body slimming treatments just after the country's two-month lockdown, he also said there has been an uptick in non-invasive procedures that focus on the face.

"Zoom is definitely one of the main drivers for surgery during the pandemic," Dr. David Loh of David Loh Surgery told Insider. He said visitors to his clinic in the Orchard area have been seeking natural-looking Botox and filler treatments to help battle the shadows cast by poor cameras and bad lighting.

"On Zoom you really examine yourself," said Dr. Loh.

Insider spoke to a 40-year-old marketing manager who said that before the pandemic, she would visit her surgeon in Singapore four times a year and pay SG$1,000 ($750) for each session. Alternatively she would fly to Bali, where she could have the same treatment for SG$300 ($225).

"I have a really good surgeon in Singapore, but it is way cheaper in Bali," she said.

Initially, the marketing manager said she took a break from Botox during lockdown. But when she started inspecting her face on Zoom calls, she saw what she described as an "angry face" and pushed the idea of saving on procedures aside. After Botox injections to remove lines on her forehead and to blast her crow's feet, she said she felt ready to log on again and face the world - and her own image - on Zoom.

Clients are not looking to add volume to their faces, said Dr. Loh. Instead, they are just seeking a tighter, tauter appearance. The above-the-neck treatments his clients are choosing include Botox treatments to reduce lines and wrinkles, refine the nose, lips, and chin, and smooth the forehead. They are also seeking filler treatments to reduce hollowness and plump cheeks.

A 30-year-old PR director told Insider she sought out a Botox appointment for a fresh-faced look. She had also taken a break from Botox during lockdown, but felt that a year of COVID-19 left her looking "super haggard."

botox plastic surgery
"I would say it's a busy time for plastic surgeons in Singapore. I have a full diary almost every day," said Dr. Leo Kah Woon.
BSIP / Contributor / Getty Images

Fewer ways to treat yourself, and more time to heal

It's not only women who have considered a nip and tuck after spending hours at a time staring at themselves on conference calls.

Singapore plastic surgeon Dr. Wong Chin Ho of W Aesthetics told Insider that men are also seeking out Zoom-friendly treatments. "It ranges from non-surgical to surgical treatments with eye bag removal and face-lifts," he said.

And while Zoom may be one of the factors driving the uptick in plastic surgery demand, Dr. Loh said it isn't the only reason more people are seeking out treatments: "Because people can't travel, they are looking for other ways to treat themselves. They will buy luxury goods or have a filler treatment to freshen up their look."

Dr. Leo echoed the sentiment and pointed out that people are looking for an emotional boost after a difficult year. "People are feeling low following the pandemic, so it's not surprising that many are turning to aesthetic treatments to make themselves feel good," he said.

Singapore-based actor Kevin Ang is schooled in camera angles and filters, but he told Insider that Botox and laser treatments for pigmentation still gave him that very emotional boost off-screen after lockdown ended. "I felt more confident. More self-assured," he said.

The chance to heal in lockdown also can't be ignored. As Dr. Wong said, "With the work from home arrangement and wearing masks when out, this was a good opportunity to have procedures, especially ones that have mandatory recovery time."

A 41-year-old Singapore-based woman who works in the education sector told Insider the chance to recuperate at home during lockdown was a huge benefit of pandemic treatments. She uses jaw Botox treatments to slim her face and reduce her strong jaw muscles.

"To be frank, my surgeon is very good and it's only occasionally I will get a bruise. But it was good to be able to heal at home," she told Insider.

More than just facial alterations

Singaporeans' readiness to invest in their appearance for this virtual world hasn't stopped at their physical features.

Prior to the pandemic, vocal coach Carina Tien of The Voice Room focused on presentation skills training. Now her clients are requesting help with their voice over Zoom. Her clients, who range from junior executives to CEOs, want to be sure they still make an impact in the virtual world.

During a two-hour class, for which she charges SG$450 ($340), Tien focuses on breathing, the diaphragm, tonality, pitch, and energy levels. The client runs through vocal exercises, such as humming in different pitches with his or her mouth closed to relax their voice and improve their range. Tien also turns to tech to show how the client is progressing.

"I use software to record the sound waves of their voice so they can see how much they are projecting," she told Insider.

After learning the fundamentals in the first class, clients are encouraged to spend the next month practicing what they have learned before booking another session. The next session focuses on making a monotonous voice become as honey-toned as a veteran news reader's.

Tien says the key to having a presence online when you're working from home is to remember that you are stepping into the office as soon as you log on. "If you start to slouch, it will change the way you project your voice," she said. "If you want to sound dynamic, you need to sit upright."

Read the original article on Insider