After 95694845 days of quarantine (I lost count), our collective #QuarantineClub efforts have not been in vain. And now I’m actually seeing other humans IRL (yay!) out and about. We’re getting our lives back in this so-called “new normal” and cautiously doing all right in Phase 3 with non-essential businesses opening up. Parts of New York are allegedly even entering Phase 4, but that seems too good to be true.
The light at the end of the tunnel seems to be within our reach, but remember—it’s a marathon, not a sprint. All things considered, we can keep up our momentum so long as a few bad apples don’t f*ck over the entire cart. Unfortunately, parts of the U.S. are experiencing just that—sheer amounts of stupidity (i.e. COVID-19 parties… seriously, WTF Alabama??).
Extreme cases aside, I understand that at this point, you’re saying to yourself “omg, I’m so over COVID-19. O-VeR. IT.” And I get it. 2020 is canceled. The pandemic was not exactly what we wanted for summer. But think about how the frontline workers must feel? My close friend Mira MacLeod, a Registered Nurse who works in the COVID-19 ward of a major Toronto hospital (which was also the same converted facility used to treat the first SARS patients) said, “hell (lol) I’M OVeR IT. If anyone has COVID fatigue, it’s me, girl.”
So for her sake and for every one of these caregiving heroes, when it comes to our collective health, reckless behavior is inexcusable. In fact, it’s NOT okay when you decide to be a d*ck by not wearing a mask in a shared public space and jeopardize the lives of others. Additionally, I honestly feel like the warm weather must be frying off some of the common sense in some people’s brains. I guess when you throw sunny skies and balmy weather into the mix, it’s like everyone suddenly forgot that there’s still a deadly pandemic in our presence which, may I remind you, still has the power to come back to bite us again (like it did to South Korea and their second wave) and force us back into our homes.
Do the people begging for stuff to reopen not realize that means having to wear a bra on a regular basis?
— The Salty Mamas (@saltymamas) May 17, 2020
In light of people filling up their social calendars once again and taking to the city streets, the Department of Health released some guidelines on how we can all be safe when gathering together and dining out. However, what these documents neglect to state or inform us about is how the heck these rules will be consistently enforced. Mayor Bill de Blasio is essentially telling us all of this is based on “trust” and calling people out when you see them breaking the rules. Basically like “if you see something, say something.” While that’s definitely one way of approaching it, despite reporting the situation, the damage will have already been done.
Dr. Sidney Chiu, an emergency doctor at North York General Hospital, reminds us that we must each do our part and continue to take initiatives in safeguarding our community. Furthermore, we made it this far in flattening the curve—let’s not f*ck it up folks! Here are useful guidelines to keep in mind:
When In Doubt, Wear A Mask
MacLeod says that if you want to be safe, you should wear a mask indoors—even if the business doesn’t state that it’s mandatory. “You should be wearing one in confined spaces like at the grocery store, on the transit system, or at a retail store—places where you’re touching a lot of things.” You should be wearing disposable rubber and/or plastic gloves for this as well (think clothing items, transit railing, etc).
Wear A Mask When Walking On The Sidewalk
MacLeod says her major pet peeve is when people don’t walk around each other on the sidewalk: “It irks me that some just don’t care and/or take liberties. They walk by you in close proximity, and this is particularly troublesome when there are small children nearby.” As a mom of two kids, this is especially triggering for her. So she advises that when you see someone approaching, go around them, if you can. Remember, social distancing means you should be six feet apart, which is further than you think.
There Is Still NO Vaccine
“Just based on how I’m seeing some people behave, I think many believe that the pandemic has mostly passed—and that’s certainly not the situation. The reality is that although we’ve passed the first wave, we are constantly at risk of new cases,” MacLeod says. She adds that precautionary measures should be as routine as checking for your wallet, phone and keys before leaving the house. “A mask, disposable gloves, hand sanitizer (making sure that it contains 60-95 percent alcohol), and disinfecting wipes should all be a part of your ‘toolkit,’” which means that these items should be considered part of your “new normal” for the foreseeable future. If you’re forgetful, a good strategy is to set up a daily pop-up alert on your phone to remind yourself of these essential items. Or consider keeping it all in a stylish bag near your door.
No Hugging Or Shaking Hands
“This is tough, understandably, because we are by nature, social creatures,” explains Dr. Chiu. He adds that “in lieu of physical touching, air hugs/air high fives, or toe tapping is better than exposing any part of your body to someone else. You just don’t want to run the risk.” As a friendly reminder, he says that COVID-19 is spread through droplets and/or physical contact. “Just think that when you’re embracing someone and that close face-to-face, any number of things could happen: coughing, sneezing—even talking and breathing could aid in transmission.” He adds that what could then theoretically occur is that even though it appears that “nothing happened” during the hug, since you effectively touched that person, you could then absentmindedly touch your mouth, nose and eyes, thereby spreading the virus.
Just Because They “Look Healthy” Doesn’t Mean They Are
“We always assume there are obvious visual cues to someone being ill. However this is certainly not the case when someone is asymptomatic and can transmit the virus to you,” says Dr. Chiu, who adds that these individuals may not even be aware they have COVID-19. “So for your sake, it’s better to err on the side of caution and to wear a mask whatever the social situation may be.” Another scary and not-so-fun fact from him: “the chance of a test detecting COVID-19 is very low if you are asymptomatic, and it is unlikely to be helpful in determining if you have COVID-19 if you have zero symptoms.”
Invest In Anti-Technology For Your Sunnies
Dr. Chiu says that “I’ve heard some people complain about their sun/glasses getting fogged up due to the mask wearing.” To remedy this, he says to do the following: “mold your mask to the bridge of your nose, tighten the mask, or simply invest in some anti-fog spray or wipes which will do the trick nicely (and you should be prepping all of this before you leave your home).” This is an overlooked issue but an important one, and he explains that “you want to minimize the amount of time touching your face. If your glasses are fogged/smudged, etc and you’re constantly readjusting them, you’re increasing your chances of exposure.”
Invest In An Automatic Soap Dispenser
When returning home, immediately wash your hands with hot soapy water before doing anything else (the CDC advises you do this within 20 seconds of entering your home.). To avoid contamination, MacLeod advises people to get one of those automated hand soap dispensers.” Additionally, she says that bar soaps are a big no-no because bacteria and germs CAN survive on them (ewwww).
And in terms of venturing out in the world à la Oh, The Places You’ll Go Post-Pandemic (!), here are a few tips and best practices to be mindful of in the following social scenarios:
If available to you, always opt to use the restaurant’s QR code, which allows you to see the menu on your smartphone rather than touching paper. An exception to this is if you have a visual impairment and require a hard copy.
Wearing a mask while dining in a patio/restaurant space isn’t required (cuz um, how else can you eat that food if your mouth is covered?!); however, you should absolutely wear one when walking to your table and using well-ventilated washroom facilities (which are 99% of the time located inside of a confined restaurant space).
Another food-related issue is regarding pick-up and take-out: you just grab the order and go. Don’t linger and/or congregate on the sidewalks.
The CDC recommends that if you’re welcoming people into your home for, say, a BBQ cookout (specifically an outdoor space like the backyard) to consider keeping a guestbook of attendees for contact tracing needs. Disposable but recycle-friendly cutlery, plates, and cups should be used in lieu of the silverware you have at home.
Both Dr. Chiu and MacLeod say that if you can, visit these spaces on a weekday when it’s less crowded. “Because it’s an outdoor setting, it’s technically safer than, say, a shopping mall because these types of places are conducive to offering more room and fresh air.” For any communal seating (such as park benches and beach chairs), use hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes prior to use.
Individual Appointments (Including, But Not Limited To, Dental And Medical Offices, Nail Salons, And Hair Salons)
Ensure that it’s not a walk-in situation, and whenever possible, book your appointment in advance. If you’re feeling uncertain, ask what sorts of protocols the business or service has implemented, such as adequate HEPA filters/ventilation, PPEs, and plexiglass barriers to minimize the risk of exposure. When you do arrive for your appointment, wait outside and arrange for the staff to text or give you a call when they’re ready for you. Lastly, if you know you have to fill out any documentation, bring your own pen—don’t use the communal ones supplied at the office/salon.
With all the news and Karen-shaming, I’d like to think that the majority of us are better than that. However, we’re all human and can still be prone to slipping up once in a while. So I recommend screenshotting this handy color-coded infographic to act as your “pocket guide” if you are ever uncertain about venturing into a specific social situation. It’s nice that we can FINALLY see our loved ones IRL again, so let’s not take any of it for granted and remember to be considerate of each other by adhering to these practical and safe protocols.
If the women gracing our reality TV screens are any indication, the fillers trend isn’t slowing down anytime soon. The statistics confirm this: in the United States, the use of fillers has increased tremendously from 1.8 million procedures in 2010 to 2.68 million in 2018, according to data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. With so many people going under the needle, I *Carrie Bradshaw voice* couldn’t help but wonder: are fillers even safe? To find out, I spoke with Dr. Oren Tepper, a board-certified plastic surgeon, and the Director of Aesthetic Surgery at Montefiore Health System.
What Exactly Are Fillers?
Like the name suggests, fillers are used to fill in wrinkles and other creases or depressions on the face by injecting a substance into the facial tissue. There are a variety of substances that can be used depending on what the patient is trying to achieve and the doctor’s preferences. Some examples are hyaluronic acid, collagen, fat and even stem cells.
Who Are Good Candidates For Fillers?
Because fillers can be used to address so many different facial issues, most people are good candidates for fillers. As far as the age range, Dr. Tepper says he has seen patients as young as in their twenties to those in their elderly years taking advantage of the procedure.
Who Should NOT Get Fillers?
Of course, those that have had bad reactions in the past are more likely to have issues again. You should also avoid fillers if you have a bleeding disorder, inflamed skin, are taking blood thinners, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have a history of an allergic reaction to fillers.
What Are The Side Effects?
Swelling is to be expected and can range from being minor to requiring a few days to a week to subside. More seriously, a bluish discoloration can occur if the fillers are injected too close to the skin and, in rare cases, if the filler finds its way into the bloodstream, it can occlude the arteries and result in tissue loss. Dr. Tepper says that these more serious complications are relatively rare, however, occurring in fewer than 1% of cases. The FDA also cites scarring, blurred vision, and blindness as other rare but serious risks that can occur if the filler is injected into a blood vessel.
How Much Is Too Much?
According to Dr. Tepper, the general rule of thumb is that if somebody notices you have fillers, you’ve gone too far. I guess most Bravolebrities have yet to get this memo. The goal is to subtly enhance your natural facial features—key word being subtly. Another important factor is ratios. Dr. Tepper says that while “volume alone may not be the threshold for what makes somebody look unnatural or natural, the ratio of your upper lip to your lower lip is a real giveaway.” Generally, when the upper lip is equal to or bigger in size than the lower lip, the result looks overdone and unnatural. What’s worse, an oversized upper lip can actually make someone appear older. Too much filler on the upper lip pulls it down and accelerates its natural drooping, which, according to Dr. Tepper, is about 1 millimeter every decade. Great, now I have another thing to be worried about. Another option, if you’re thinking of getting lip fillers in particular, is to take a more comprehensive approach and consider how you want your mouth to look as a whole. Dr. Tepper recently teamed with aesthetic dentist Dr. Jonathan Levine to introduce LipSync, a dual-specialty approach that changes both lip length and tooth position, so your entire smile looks better and you avoid the dreaded balloon lips effect.
But if you do go too far, there are some ways you can fix a f*ck up. According to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, mild irregularities like lumpiness or slight asymmetry may be fixed be massaging the area, which your provider can do or help you do at home. Certain types of fillers can be dissolved by injecting an enzyme (more on that in a sec), but otherwise, the best option is just to wait for the fillers to get absorbed by your body.
How Long Does It Last?
This depends on which type of filler is injected into the face. Dr. Tepper estimates that hyaluronic acid fillers will last anywhere from six months to a year and a half. One of the benefits of using hyaluronic acid is that if you are unhappy with the results, there’s an enzyme that can be injected afterwards to dissolve the filler. For those seeking something longer lasting, approximately half of any fat injected as filler stays in the face, according to Dr. Tepper. While there are permanent fillers such as silicone, Dr. Tepper does not recommend using them. Not only are the results irreversible, they can lead to disfigurement, infection and other serious problems. Yikes.
What’s This Going To Cost Me?
This varies tremendously depending on the filler used, the practitioner you go to and the area(s) to be treated, but Dr. Tepper estimated that the procedure usually costs about $1,000 per area on average.
Are There More Natural Alternatives?
While sadly there is no magic face cream that will annihilate your wrinkles and pay off your student loans, certain fillers are more natural than others. Using fat or stem cells may be a good choice for those who don’t like the idea of injecting unnatural substances into their body. Dr. Tepper will often inject saline into the desired area to give the patient a sense of the results, but this only lasts several hours rather than several months. A lip lift is another procedure that can add volume without injecting filler. If you’re looking for something sans needle, topical retinoids are a good preventative measure that can help fight wrinkles and hold off the need for the needle.
What Should I Know Before Committing?
It’s important that patients considering fillers understand exactly what they are getting into. In Dr. Tepper’s experience, many people mistake overdone filler for botched plastic surgery: “The overdone lips, the overinflated cheeks. Those are not surgical issues, those are overfilling.” In order to avoid this, it’s okay to start small and get a few injections in stages over a period of time in order to carefully assess the results instead of doing everything at once. This is especially true for those who haven’t had the procedure before. Dr. Tepper uses MirrorMe3D, an innovative, new visual technology with the ability to scan and print out a 3D version of your face. This allows patients to see what they could and should look like following a procedure, as well as what has been done throughout the years in case they visit more than one doctor.
At the end of the day, fillers are generally safe and effective, so long as you stick to the non-permanent versions and visit a doctor with proper training and credentials. While it might seem tempting to click on that 50% off Groupon, refrain, lest you end up looking like a case study on Botched. Or, we could all just collectively agree that wrinkles are perfectly natural and forego the whole thing entirely. Crazy, I know.
Images: Sara Bakhshi / Unsplash; Giphy (3)