Melissa Clark has been patiently waiting for the day she could get lip fillers once again.
Though the pandemic has slowed things down for many careers, Clark is still interacting with people face-to-face, even if it's just virtually. She is a journalist and editor-at-large for Preferred Health magazine. She hosts an iHeartRadio podcast called "Making A Difference," which is also filmed for YouTube.
Plus, fuller lips just make the Brooklyn native feel better.
"You just feel beautiful when you have a nice pouty lip, you know," Clark admitted. "Beauty is obviously inside, but it makes you feel wonderful and beautiful."
Clark's plastic surgeon, Dr. Farrokh Shafaie, said she's not the only patient making appointments. He now goes through a three-month supply of fillers in a week.
"It goes through so fast," he said. "It's unbelievable."
As pandemic restrictions lift, doctors in the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and The Aesthetic Society trade groups have reported an uptick of patients looking for nips, tucks, and fillers. Botox, breast enhancements, and soft-tissue fillers topped the American Society of Plastic Surgeons members' lists, while The Aesthetic Society members say they have done more body procedures in 2020 compared to last year.
"We couldn't even get our hair or our nails done [during COVID-related shutdowns], you know what I mean, things that make you feel like a civilized human being," Clark said. "Are lips one of them? No, but to each their own and whatever makes people feel good about themselves."
It may be all tied to a phenomenon known as "revenge spending." While analysts Bain and Co. predict luxury sales will decline 20 percent to 35 percent this year, they believe wealthy people will shift to buying more physical goods rather than experiences due to the pandemic.
The term, which originated in China, describes the behavior of many pandemic-stricken individuals who have decided to open their wallets for luxury goods and items when stores open again. When luxury fashion brand Hermes re-opened its shop in Guangzhou, China in April, it recorded $2.7 million in sales on the first day, according to WWD.
Americans are shopping as well. July retail sales were up 1.2 percent from June, an increase of 2.7 percent over this time last year.
"Nobody went to the movie theater [this year]," Shafaie said. "Nobody went to vacation, so all the money they are supposed to spend on those, they are available to them now."
He believes that some of that saved money is now going towards plastic surgery. In Manhattan, lip fillers run between $800 to $2,500, while Botox can run $800 to $2,400.
Unlike previous times, today's mask mandates make it easier to hide bruises from the procedure while healing.
"[It's a] good thing for plastic surgeons," Shafaie pointed out, laughing. "Good thing also for the patient because they feel better about themselves."
Plus, Clark added, there is extra value in things that can help improve your mood these days.
"Just the whole universe being sad and losing people, it's a shame, and we're still going through that," Clark said. "So I think if we do things to lift our spirits up and ourselves up, it doesn't matter what you do, it will keep us happy."