As the wave of the COVID-19 pandemic slowly subsides and the lockdown measures are lifted around the world, predictions about the future of plastic surgery start to emerge. Some experts see the pandemic as the major game-changer in the field of plastic surgery. According to the reports, online consultations will replace face-to-face meetings, safety procedures will be more rigid and because of that cosmetic surgery will become less attractive to patients. However, the director of Nordesthetics clinic – a leading international plastic surgery center in Kaunas, Lithuania, is more reserved in her predictions.
“Virtual consultations are definitely here to stay,” said Justina Bartkute, the director of Nordesthetics clinic. “We will continue to offer them and expect some 20-30% of patients to prefer virtual consultations over face-to-face meetings. For the remaining patients virtual consultations are not attractive, because, for example, they feel uncomfortable undressing before the camera. The security of technologies is also a major obstacle for the development of virtual consultations as in doctor-patient relations confidentiality is the first priority.”
According to Ms. Bartkute, the clinic is presently forced to work in the virtual mode with the majority of its patients. But the surgeons expect to renew face-to-face meetings with patients as soon international travel restrictions are lifted. Ms. Bartkute thinks that clinics should not extrapolate future predictions from current restrictions.
“Predictions concerning the rigidity of safety procedures and the reluctance of patients to come for surgeries are too far-fetched,” she says. “Most of the COVID-19 containment measures are usual medical precautions, such as disinfection or measurement of body temperature. Contrary to the general public, hospitals did not have to change their usual mode of work dramatically. Such discomforts as visiting restrictions are temporary. They won’t last forever and they won’t have substantial influence on the demand for plastic surgery”.
During the quarantine, all patients coming for consultations to Nordesthetics clinic have to measure their body temperature, disinfect their hands, wear face masks and gloves. Consultations are limited to 20 minutes with only 1-2 patients visiting the clinic at a time. Before surgeries, all patients have SARS-CoV-2 tests in addition to other pre-surgical testing. Accompanying persons or visitors are not allowed at the clinic.
According to Ms. Bartkute, these measures do not cause any major irritation or repulse among patients. She is much more concerned over travel restrictions as these are a major problem for an international plastic surgery center.
“Due to restrictions of international travel the average waiting time at our clinic increased to 6 months,” explained Ms. Bartkute. “It means that we will experience a temporary overload once these restrictions are lifted. But we are already increasing our treatment capacity and will reduce the waiting time to 3 months. In the long run, we expect to return to our normal mode of operations with a steady increase in demand that we had before the pandemic.”
Every year Nordesthetics clinic hosts over 2.000 patients, 90% of whom are medical tourists looking for affordable quality treatment abroad. The clinic offers tummy tuck, liposuction, rhinoplasty, breast augmentation and other popular plastic surgeries. Apart from the qualified doctors and medical staff, the patients receive logistical support and personal assistance while they visit Kaunas, Lithuania, including transfers to and from the airport.