COVIS surgical mask
Cosmetic Surgery

Plastic Surgery In a Pandemic World: Safety Protocols Your Doctor Should Use

People still want to look their best – even when few are looking at them. As the pandemic continues and social distancing remains an important public safety measure, cosmetic surgery is resuming across the country.

The elective medical procedure was prohibited in most states throughout the peak months of the pandemic, but the phasing in of business reopenings has brought it back. Daily operations won’t be the same as before, though, due to heightened health priorities.

It will seem and look a little different when a patient visits the office, but the approach by the professional should always be the same: patient first. Plastic surgery requires head, heart, and hands. Head for knowledge and vision, heart for empathy, hands for technical expertise.

Patient safety is always No. 1, but now it’s incumbent on all surgeons to ensure they and their staff leave no stone unturned when it comes to keeping their facility clean. Strict and consistent health and safety practices have to be followed every day.

These are the safety protocols patients should now expect at a plastic surgery facility:

  • Pre-screening before arriving.

    Several days before a scheduled surgery, patients are pre-screened to go over their recent health. It includes whether they have had any COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, sore throat, difficulty breathing, loss of smell/taste, etc. Additionally, you need to know if they’ve traveled anywhere in the U.S. or abroad in the previous three weeks, or if they’ve had any contact with people who had symptoms. They’ll also fill out a form including these kinds of questions when they arrive.

  • Increased sanitization.

    Regular and deep sanitization efforts to keep the facilities as germ-free as possible are essential. This includes continually disinfecting common areas and high-touch surfaces, starting from the front-office check-in area to each treatment and exam room before and after each patient interaction. Medical-grade air purifiers that circulate the air are very important. There are also machines that create a suction field over the head of a patient who is receiving facial injectables, clearing the air of potentially infectious particles.

  • Strict adherence to CDC recommendations.

    All patients should be temperature-screened when they arrive. And like many medical and dental offices, plastic surgery facilities are limiting and staggering appointments to stay within social distancing guidelines, keeping their waiting rooms mostly sparse. New patients’ first consultations are often done by video conference. Also, patients should wait in their cars until the staff is ready for their appointment.

  • Wearing full PPE gear.

    Providers and their staff will have to completely safeguard themselves and patients with increased personal protection  Everybody wears N95 respirator masks, gloves, scrubs, gowns and eye protection during direct patient contact. For procedures such as lip fillers, wearing an N95 mask, the surgeon’s approach is from above and the side, thus preventing close face-to-face frontal exposure and avoiding droplets in either direction.

surgeon PPE

People will keep wanting to help their appearance, to get a renewed look back. The various ways of cosmetic surgery can still be done safely, and that’s a team effort among patient, doctor, and staff. Everybody has to pay careful attention to ensure safety.

Scott  R. Miller M.D. FACS ( is a board-certified cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon and the founder of Miller Cosmetic Surgery Center. He earned his medical degree from the University of California Irvine, College of Medicine and performed his plastic surgery residency at the University of California San Diego, School of Medicine. Dr. Miller took a prestigious Aesthetic Surgery Fellowship with world-renowned plastic surgeon Bruce Connell, M.D.; is an attending surgeon at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Calif.; and a voluntary clinical instructor and assistant professor of plastic surgery at the University of California, San Diego. A sought-after speaker, he has published numerous scientific articles and textbook chapters and has been honored many times for his contributions to aesthetic surgery.

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