What is the old cliché? When one door closes, another opens? The SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes may have shut the doors to film and TV studios, but it seems that other dream factories have been swamped with traffic: plastic surgeons’ offices. Now just to be clear: the vast majority of strikers — journeyman actors and workaday writers — are simply fighting for fair pay and protections in a rapidly changing business. But for some above-the-title talent, this work stoppage has become the perfect opportunity for a quick blepharoplasty so they can look more “rested” when cameras start rolling again.
Catherine Chang, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Los Angeles, says she’s seen a significant increase in Hollywood patients booking appointments for cosmetic surgery. The boom, says Dr. Chang, first began in May around the time of the start of the writers’ strike, which had writers as well as some producers calling her office to get work done. Once the SAG-AFTRA strike kicked off, a “really big influx” of actor patients began requesting appointments. “It’s been a little tricky, but we’re trying to get as many people in as possible,” says Dr. Chang. “We understand that usually actors and people in Hollywood don’t really get this opportunity to take time off and people are utilizing this time now to do personal things and personal interests of theirs.”
Those personal interests include a variety of facial procedures such as facelifts, upper and lower blepharoplasties (eyelid lifts), and brow lifts — the kinds of surgeries that require a more obvious recovery period, says Dr. Chang. (The downtime required for body surgeries is more discreet. Since you can cover them with clothing, they can really be done any time.)
Dr. Chang says that these surgery requests are not a “sudden, whimsical decision” for her patients, though. “I think they have been thinking about it for a while,” she says. “Suddenly, they’re given this opportunity of time so they’re going to take it.” And take it swiftly. Chang had one Hollywood patient this month go from facelift consultation to surgery in two weeks, “which is very fast,” she says. “But no one knows how long this will last so they want to act quickly.”
The last time the plastic surgery industry saw this much of an unexpected boom was during the initial COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. People were spending more time on Zoom calls, staring at their own faces and finding things they wanted to tweak, but even more than that — they had the opportunity to just go “camera off” during a post-op healing period. Ben Talei, MD, a board-certified facial plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, says that the current demand in his office is very similar to during the pandemic lockdown, when the phone was ringing off the hook. “It’s just like we had for COVID, when we got a ton of calls, and people were waiting a week or two to see if there was going to be any kind of movement,” he says.