The pandemic may have caused many things, but one thing it certainly did was open people up more to their insecurities or need to look even “better” while on multiple Facetime, Zoom and video chats without a mask covering them up.
Facial slimming and other hot facial plastic surgery trends have hit not only Los Angeles, but in regions across the United States. Just ask Dr. Daria Hamrah, the top Double Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial / Facial Cosmetic Surgeon in America who is based just outside of the Washington area.
While he may not practise specifically here in LA, his clients – celebrity and every day folk – travel from around the world just to see him to get procedures done.
In an exclusive one-on-one interview, Dr. Hamrah opens up to us here at the Tribune about trends happening during COVD, why more people these days want to look like Kylie Jenner, Megan Fox, Bella Hadid and other stars, and how life as a surgeon is during these times.
1. What does it mean to be a cosmetic surgeon during these pandemic times? What have you been doing differently to keep your patients safe?
It has definitely been challenging, especially last year when the pandemic hit. No one knew how bad it was and many thought of the coronavirus as the death sentence. Unfortunately, the media didn’t help our cause by politicizing and dramatizing the events for ratings and political interests. Not only we were just learning about the virus, but trying to do so in the midst of an election year, which made things even more complicated. Policies kept changing almost on daily basis and didn’t make sense from a health care perspective and were quite confusing, frequently causing anxiety for our patients and our staff. So it wasn’t easy navigating through those tough waters for sure. But I always try to look at the bright side of things and am an optimist by nature. I used the opportunity to reevaluate everything. From my personal life and the things that matter to me the most, like my family and my kids, to improving our policies and restructuring my surgery center to better serve our patients and guarantee their health and safety. A lot of education, training, and logistical restructuring to keep everyone safe. Using Telehealth was a big transformation which we will continue even post-pandemic. It has opened the door for many patients that are interested to see me from out of state and all over the world. Today we are seeing a huge number of out-of-state patients as a result and are serving patients nationally as well as internationally.
2. While Los Angeles is filled with stars, what types of clients do you have in your region?
As you know I practice in the Washington D.C. Metro in Northern Virginia. So by default, most of my patients are either attorneys, people in the government or high profile athletes and their spouses. So our stars here are people you see mostly in the news or on ESPN rather than the movies. But no matter who we are, our first impression matters, no matter how we judge it. We all judge people consciously or subconsciously within the first couple of seconds by their appearance until we get to know them further and become familiar with their personality. So people’s appearance is important to them no matter whether they admit it or not. Having a more in-depth understanding of facial anatomy, aging as well as the psychological effects that come with them, I am very sensitive to my patient’s needs, no matter who they are. When you treat everyone like a celebrity, then it becomes easy. So as far as I am concerned, every patient is a celebrity and that’s how I treat them. I genuinely care about them, because I know how important it is for their self-esteem and self-confidence.
3. Why do you feel celebrities from here in LA travel at times out of state to come to you, rather than some surgeons we have here?
It’s very simple because they feel that I can give them what they want. It’s all about results. It used to be about where you went to school or what degrees or certifications you had. But today, with social media becoming the first resource for most patients to view before and after results, people have a better chance to judge a surgeon’s skill by their results rather than their accolades. Of course it always helps if you have both. So, many people travel to me from the west coast and other places in the world because they like my results and they have had the chance to get to know me very well before even having seen me. As you know I am out there on social media, completely unfiltered, and spend a lot of time communicating directly with my audience. Not many of my colleagues like to do that because it’s not something they enjoy. But for me, it’s the best thing ever. I get to communicate with my audience directly and showcase my work and more importantly educate them about myths, do’s, and don’ts. My patients love it and give me feedback all the time, which motivates me to continue and even double down. So bottom line, it’s exposure coupled with what the consumer actually wants.
4. What are some trendy new procedures people are getting done these days?
As to trends, If you are asking me about surgical trends, the most common is “facial slimming” like buccal fat pad removal (removing cheek fat), nonsurgical face and neck tightening procedures, and liposuction of the double chin to contour the jawline and nose reshaping. The uptick of these procedures is due to people opening more time in front of the computer screen on FaceTime or ZOOM calls. I think the above trends will continue as people have simply become “hyper-aware” of their facial aesthetics and will continue to do so as video conferencing and “FaceTiming” using various platforms like ZOOM, FaceTime, Facebook and Instagram have found their place in our society and have become a mainstay of the way we communicate today and in the future. The pandemic has opened the doors for these breakthrough technologies to prove themselves as a more efficient way of communication and in my opinion, they are there to stay. We don’t have to fly cross country for meetings or physically go into a remote office 5 days a week anymore. Imagine how much time and money people save that way! The pandemic has certainly taught us much in that regard. I literally have patients coming to me saying: “I am not spending as much money on my commute anymore and now have the money to spend on myself, something I always wanted to do!”.
But let us not forget another trend that started “pre-pandemic”, which is the increase in health consciousness and fitness in our society and that trend is across generations. With that many of us want to look the way feel and defy the forces of nature and aging. Lastly, the rise and reach of social media in the past 5 years has created an environment where everyone feels they are in competition with one another and want to look and present their best.
5. What celebrity do most people want to look like? And what parts?
Currently, the top celebrities my patients are looking at are Bella Hadid, Megan Fox, Meghan Markle, Angelina Jolie, Kylie Jenner, Khloe Kardashian. Of course, they are all beautiful and accomplished women and many women look up to them and wish they had their eyes, brows, noses, jawline, cheekbones, etc. Sometimes it’s helpful because I have an idea what they are looking for and other times not so much because they expect their features to look just like them, which of course is not possible. I always try to explain to my patients that the changes are always relative and not absolute. For example, if you have a nose with specific anatomical features, I can morph it and reshape it, but I cannot transform it into someone else’s nose. More importantly, it might not even fit to their general facial features. The beauty of one’s face consists of the harmonious combination of all the facial features, the shape of your face, the shape of your eyes and eyebrows, cheekbones, lips, chin, and so on.
6. Do you ever see yourself expanding to LA?
I don’t know, to be honest, I’ve never thought of it. Especially now since most patients don’t mind traveling for cosmetic surgery as they are more flexible through working from home. In general, though, I never say never. Just recently I was asked to be flown into Dubai to perform surgeries there which had never crossed my mind. So now, I am actually considering it. I guess it depends on the circumstances and the possibilities that present themselves. If the opportunity is right, I will, if not, I am perfectly fine where I am.
7. Aside from work, where are some of your favorite spots to go here in town (pre-COVID) when you would come?
When I come to LA it’s mostly about visiting friends and family. I love Santa Monica and Beverly Hills. I love hanging out with friends and dining, especially the outdoors. One of my favorite beaches is Venice beach. I love the crowd, diversity, and energy, plus I love the beach. I am probably going to retire somewhere on a beach.
8. If you could fix (or upgrade) one thing about yourself looks wise, what would it be?
To be honest, I am pretty content with myself right now. Many years ago I had my nose fixed after I fractured it playing basketball and it was crooked and I could barely breathe. It was a pretty life-changing experience since I had trouble breathing and my glasses wouldn’t stay straight on my face. Plus, as someone that is athletically very active, it was limiting me tremendously. After my surgery, I couldn’t believe how much it had improved my lifestyle, confidence, and self-esteem. I remember the first thought that had come to my mind after my surgery is that: “I can’t believe I waited this long to have something as simple and life-changing as this done!”
So, my focus today is on prevention, maintenance, and anti-aging treatments like botox, laser, micro-needling with radiofrequency and anti-aging skincare products from my own skincare line.