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While the coronavirus pandemic has led to school closures and people working from home, some see this as a good time to try something they have always wanted to — plastic surgery.

This has worried many medical professionals who have asked people to “refrain from nonessential treatments” to prevent further spread of the virus, as the number of cosmetic surgery applications in Japan has recently increased.

Demand shows no sign of weakening, largely due to the prevalent use of face masks to prevent infection but which can be also used to hide potential post-surgery swelling.

“There are many people who want eye surgery or face lifts,” said a female nurse, 23, who works at a major clinic. “Some parents and children come together to get double eyelid surgeries.”

The clinic tends to receive more reservations from the end of January, when universities take a two-month break at the end of the academic year, but has seen more bookings than usual this year, she said.

As medical facilities nationwide face a shortage of supplies due to the pandemic, the clinic is struggling to secure materials such as sterilized gauzes and disinfectant.

The nurse said it has decreased the number of gauzes used in surgery from 10 to between two and five, and on occasion cuts a piece of gauze in half due to lack of supplies.

“We cannot be said to be in perfect condition (from a hygienic perspective),” she admitted.

A 29-year-old female nurse quit her job at a clinic in Tokyo at the end of April, citing anxiety about potential infections and distrust toward its management.

Although its website says the clinic ensures patients’ safety by disinfecting its facilities, it lacked disinfectants and did not sterilize them properly recently, she said.

Furthermore, employees at the clinic have their salary cut by over ¥10,000 ($93) for a day off, making it difficult for workers with a fever to stay home, she said.

According to the nurse, the clinic closed when a staff member was found to have coronavirus, but reopened after a few days without announcing the infection.

“I was embarrassed to work at a place that may be spreading the virus,” she said. “They should temporarily stop people from coming.”

The Japan Association of Aesthetic Medicine and the Japan Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery state on their websites that cosmetic treatments are “not essential for many people.”

“Health care professionals should be working on securing medical resources as well as preventing further spread of the virus. Please refrain from surgery at this time,” said Hiroyuki Ojimi, president of the JSAPS.

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