Plastic Surgery and the Pandemic
BY MARTIE EMORY
“I just see my mother’s neck every time I am on Zoom” – or a similar comment – is what Dr. Neal Goldman says he has heard almost every week from a patient during the pandemic. You would not expect facial procedures to be so popular, but the pandemic has surgeons around the country reporting an upswing as practices reopen, and this is also true at the Goldman Center for Facial Plastic Surgery.
Ever committed to truly doing what is best for patients, Dr. Goldman – like many other businesses – closed his Winston-Salem office during the month of April, as part of our community response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A time of both learning and flexibility, it was a reminder that the practice’s number one mission is to provide safe care. “We wanted to do what was best for the community, while providing care, but we had to do so safely,” he says. While they halted elective surgeries mid-March and didn’t begin elective hospital procedures such as face and neck lifts until May, the center did continue with skin cancer care and necessary reconstructive procedures. Some patients were actually annoyed, telling the office staff, “Even though I’m not going anywhere and no one will see me, I still want to get my Botox.”
When the practice did fully reopen, very few changes in daily procedures were necessary, as the staff was already cleaning every surface between patients, from chairs to door knobs to light switches, in their “pre-pandemic” state, as part of their normal protocol.
“A doctor’s office is already safer than most other places,” says Dr. Goldman, who wears an N95 mask when doing procedures, and asks his patients to slip on a mask when consulting in his office. Medical staff in physicians’ offices are just used to properly wearing PPE. “We did remove magazines from our waiting area, but that was about it – everything else was already in place.”
So why are facial procedures so popular now? If you’re working from home or quarantining with your family, you’re blessed with more recovery time. Wearing a mask for daily shopping and errands is also the perfect way to cover bruises as you heal. Let’s face it: Those Zoom meetings and Facetime encounters are giving you an up close and personal view of facial features you may not be fond of – typically the eyes and neck – and you’re likely more aware of areas you’d like to improve, usually thanks to that flattering camera angle that just makes things look worse
Dr. Goldman explains that he and his staff are doing as many surgeries as they can from their office, a low-traffic option. During the pandemic he also performs surgeries at a very small hospital in the High Country, located in the last county of North Carolina to even report a COVID case. “We have only two operating rooms and eight hospital beds – each of which has a view of Grandfather Mountain, so volume and traffic is low.”
Also front and center on Dr. Goldman’s mind – and heart – is his commitment to HUGS (Help Us Give Smiles), an organization that works tirelessly to improve congenital deformities such as cleft lip, cleft palate, and microtia in the countries of Guatemala, Vietnam, and Ecuador. “We are all thinking about choices differently these days,” says Dr. Goldman. “Most of us are focused on what’s really important in our lives, including self-care, and determining how we really want to spend our time.”
Sadly, all three of the group’s planned trips in 2020 were canceled because of pandemic restrictions. “There were 37 babies born with cleft palate in Guatemala last month who face difficulty eating without surgery, and we have reports that those communities are on lockdown and the mothers can’t get milk for their babies,” he explains. Dr. Goldman is hopeful a March 2021 trip to Vietnam can proceed as planned, bringing smiles back where they are needed most!
But here at home, if a patient is still hesitant about committing to surgery, now is a perfect time to come in for a consultation to explore every available option. But it’s also the ideal time to schedule a procedure you’ve been contemplating for a year or two! Plus, Dr. Goldman is doing injectables again in the office, along with aesthetic surgery and hair restoration.
Dr. Goldman and his staff look forward to discussing your best options during the pandemic. Goldman Center for Facial Plastic Surgery is located at 108 Dornach Way, Advance, NC, 336-245-9595, and at 717 Greenway Road, Boone, NC, 828-278-9230. Visit FacialPlasticSurgeryNC.com to learn more about services. For more information on the work of HUGS, please visit HelpUsGiveSmiles.org.