America Is Having a Plastic Surgery and Botox Bonanza

The vaccines are coming — and everyone’s rushing to get lip injections

Zara Stone
Marker
Published in
5 min readJan 25, 2021

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Illustration: Rob Dobi

In June, Susie Sessoms got her first lip filler. In November, she tried Kybella, the “fat dissolving” double chin injectable. “I swelled up like a bullfrog,” she says. “It’s a good thing I didn’t have to go to work!” Like many office workers, Sessoms, a mortgage executive in the Twin Cities, has worked from home from March of last year. Her company doesn’t do Zoom, which made it even easier to get treatments discreetly. “I wasn’t concerned about catching Covid,” she says. Her medspa’s sanitization protocols make her feel safer than at the grocery store.

Like so many businesses in the pandemic, cosmetic surgeons took a big hit last March; there was less interest in beautification and more focus on shelter in place and toilet paper supplies. Across America, shutdowns for elective cosmetic work varied wildly; New York closed for three months, Minnesota for seven weeks, and so on. Some places never reopened. In July 2020, AbbVie, the pharmaceutical firm that owns Botox, reported a huge dip in global net revenues from sales of cosmetic Botox — down to $226 million, a 43.1% decrease from 2019.

Then, a shift. Practices reopened. Phones rang. Appointment after appointment was booked. AbbVie’s October earnings call was distinctly sunnier: $393 million in net revenues from Botox, a mere 2.2% decrease from regular operations.

In 2021, with the vaccine on the horizon, and an end in sight, people are turning their attention to the possibility of IRL meetups — and what impression they’ll give. The stress, inertia, and (for some) carb-heavy diet of the last year has left many feeling prematurely aged, out of shape, and saggy. That’s led to a boom in cosmetic procedures, which are now widely accessible, even amid shutdowns (in California you can’t get your hair cut but can have Botox). RealSelf.com, the “Yelp’’ for cosmetic surgery, says appointment bookings spiked 71% in October, and they are…

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Zara Stone
Marker

Tech+Culture f/lance journo. www.zarastone.net Bylines: OneZero, Marker, Atlantic, Forbes, etc. Author: The Future of Science Is Female https://bit.ly/stm202