The Zoom Effect: A Google Trends Analysis

Aesthet Surg J. 2022 Jan 1;42(1):NP76-NP82. doi: 10.1093/asj/sjab347.


Background: Increased video-chatting, stimulated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has been correlated with increased appearance concerns. Initial lockdown restrictions correlated with a decrease in aesthetic/cosmetic plastic surgery case volumes.

Objectives: The authors aimed to delineate public interest in aesthetic procedures surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic via Google Trends. They hypothesized that because of the pandemic, public interest in plastic surgery procedures increased, especially localized above the shoulder.

Methods: Trends in the United States for given search terms and volumes were gathered via Google Trends between January 2015 and March 2021. The search volumes were normalized, and a bivariate regression analysis of panel data was then applied to the aggregate trendlines to determine if a statistically significant change in search volume occurred following the stay-at-home orders.

Results: The following search terms had statistically significant (P < 0.000) increases in search volumes after February 2020: blepharoplasty, Botox, brachioplasty, breast implant removal, breast reduction, brow lift, buccal fat removal, hair transplantation, lip augmentation, mentoplasty, otoplasty, platysmaplasty, rhinoplasty, and thighplasty. Chi-squared analysis demonstrated a statistically significant association (chi-squared = 4.812, P = 0.028) between increases in search volume and above-the-shoulder procedures.

Conclusions: Public interest in above-the-shoulder surgical procedures statistically significantly increased following February 2020 compared with below-the-shoulder procedures. Continued examination of specific procedure trends and determining correlations with more accurate procedural datasets will provide increased insight into consumers' mindsets and to what extent video conferencing plays a role in the public's interest in pursuing aesthetic surgery.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Search Engine*
  • United States / epidemiology