Oculofacial plastic surgery-related online search trends including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
Purpose: The authors aim to characterize oculofacial plastic surgery-related online interest that may be useful in forecasting demand and in designing patient-directed online resources.
Methods: The authors queried Google Trends for over 100 oculofacial plastic surgery terms. The main outcome measure was the top 50 oculofacial plastic surgery-related search terms from 2004 to 2020. Secondary outcomes were trends, including seasonality, and search volume changes during the COVID-19 lockdown (March–May 2020) compared to 2018–2019. Terms were analyzed individually and in thematic categories; controlled against generic search terms to account for general internet traffic.
Results: Between 2004 and 2020, searches for oculofacial plastic surgery altogether increased, surpassing the rate of internet traffic growth. One thematic category – eyelid malpositions – decreased month-over-month. The top five terms were “face lift,” “Bell’s palsy,” “puffy eyes,” “dark circles under eyes,” and “chalazion.” Eyelid neoplasms searches peaked in summer (R2 = 0.880) whereas cosmetic (R2 = 0.862), symptoms (R 2 = 0.907), and surgeries (R 2 = 0.140) peaked in winter. Overall, oculofacial-related searches decreased during the COVID-19 lockdown, although thyroid eye disease interest increased compared to 2018 or 2019 (+68.6%; adj. p = .005). Oculofacial plastic surgery interest in 2020 was inversely correlated to “COVID-19” searches (r = −0.76, p < .001).
Conclusions: Oculofacial plastic surgery searches increased since 2004 at a pace greater than that ascribed to internet traffic growth. The most searched terms were “face lift,” “Bell’s palsy,” “puffy eyes,” “dark circles under eyes,” and “chalazion.” Almost all oculofacial-related searches decreased during the COVID-19 lockdown.