Zoom face woes? As aesthetics procedures skyrocket post-lockdown, pharma rolls out campaigns

Merz Aesthetics spokesperson Gwyneth Paltrow
(Merz Aesthetics) Gwyneth Paltrow for Merz's Xeomin is one of the new faces of aesthetics campaigns now in full swing post-lockdown COVID-19. (Merz)

The U.S. aesthetics business is booming. Fillers, fat freezers and the like are garnering interest and spurring marketing campaigns as plastic surgery and aestheticians' offices reopen after pandemic closures. 

Whatever the driving force—months of unforgiving reflections on Zoom calls, the glut of “improve yourself during lockdown” hype or night after night staring at actors and actresses on Netflix instead of real people—pent-up demand is spurring more aesthetic treatments, along with a slew of marketing campaigns to a seemingly game audience.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) forecasts injectables as the top post-pandemic treatment with 65% of people interested in botulinum toxin procedures. The data, culled from telehealth visits reported by the society’s members, also found the third most popular request among 37% of potential patients were soft tissue fillers. Breast augmentation was second most popular with 44% interested.

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RELATED: AbbVie CEO: Don't worry, Allergan's aesthetics clients still have money—and 'strong desire' for treatment

“With more people working virtually, they are seeing the areas that they would like to address more vividly on screen, and more are taking advantage of the ability to recover from home or from behind a mask,” ASPS President Lynn Jeffers, M.D., said.

Pharma marketers are responding with promotions and ad campaigns to highlight the aesthetic possibilities.

Merz Aesthetics, for one, began a campaign for Xeomin, its anti-wrinkle botulinum toxin, with client and A-list celebrity spokesperson Gwyneth Paltrow.

CEO Bob Rhatigan said demand for medical aesthetic procedures has leapt, with many aestheticians reporting big increases compared to the same time in previous years. The pandemic is one of several factors—along with de-stigmatization of aesthetic treatments as well as a younger client base—currently driving the market, he said.

“There’s a high degree of interest and people wanting to do something that makes them feel good during this time of high intensity and disruption,” Rhatigan said.

AbbVie’s Allergan Aesthetics has several campaigns running and its flagship Botox cosmetic treatment recently returned to TV advertising in September. Its “Own Your Look” commercial, launched last fall, stopped running in March, but it's now airing again to encourage viewers to go to the Botox website to see before and after looks.

RELATED: Galderma navigates lip filler launch during COVID-19 with stay-at-home model shoots, telehealth materials

Allergan also recently launched a CoolSculpting and CoolTone campaign with actress and producer Malin Akerman as spokesperson. Akerman will appear in social media and public relations efforts talking about her use of both; it’s the first time Allergan has co-promoted the fat freezing technique and muscle toning system as a combo treatment.

Meanwhile, Galderma’s approved Restylane Kysse lip filler launched a grass roots campaign in June after its mid-pandemic approval in May. Alisa Lask, Galderma's general manager and VP of its U.S. aesthetics business, said its press release for Kysse's FDA approval spurred twice as much media coverage as any Galderma product in the past, evidence of "tremendous pent-up interest in aesthetics, especially in lips.”

Clinics are doing their part to spur business as well, with many taking to Facebook to tout Botox offerings and encouraging clients to book in advance or come in as soon as they were allowed to open.

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