Many plastic surgeons report that interest in plastic surgery has never been higher, and data indicates the appeal will not wane soon. The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) reported in 2019 that the demand for minimally invasive cosmetic procedures, such as Botox, was increasing, especially among the Millennial generation.
Social Media And The Pursuit Of The Perfect Selfie
Why is this happening? Experts think social media is fueling the interest in the perfect selfie. As a result, many people interested in plastic surgery are concerned about looking their best for their selfie pictures on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms.
According to Dr. Raj Mohan, a Dallas board certified plastic surgeon, “Social media is like strolling around with a handheld mirror all the time. You always see how you look in all of your photos, and that constant barrage of images can make you notice lines, wrinkles, bags under the eyes, and other signs of aging.”
Seeing these little imperfections clearly makes people more interested in having work done, Dr. Raj noted. Let’s take a closer look at some of the issues with social media affecting people’s views of themselves and how surgery can help.
People Don’t See Us From Social Media Photo Angles
One of the biggest reasons that social media has so much effect on people’s concept of their appearances the camera angle. For instance, if you put the camera lens too close, it can make your nose look much larger than it is. Also, if the camera is below your face looking up, it will show things that many people don’t see when they look straight at you. Plus, if you take a face picture under a source of light, it will put shadows on your face that may be unflattering.
Here’s a good example: A plastic surgeon reported he had a patient who wanted to make his ‘large’ nostrils less visible. But the photo he used as a reference was taken from below, making his nostrils appear larger than they are. The surgeon asked to take pictures of the patient’s nose look straight at his face, and the patient noticed that his nostrils weren’t too big, after all.
Patients should remember that social media photos are not always an accurate portrayal of how people see us in the real world. However, if you dwell too much on every photo and flaw, it can damage your self-esteem. And it might make you want to go under the knife when you don’t need it.
Social Media Images Can Make Us Focus Too Much On The Details
Some surgeons contend that many patients want specific cosmetic procedures directly because of social media images. For example, a patient may think they desperately need a lateral brow lift or Botox in a particular area in the corner of the eye.
The fact that the requests are so specific suggests patients are getting these ideas from looking at social media selfies. Again, there is a fine line between wanting a facial procedure to ‘refresh’ the face, but if the patient becomes too self-critical from poring over social media images, it can become a problem.
Another Factor: Celebrity Influence
The ubiquity of social media isn’t the sole reason that more Americans are turning to plastic surgery for a younger, fresher look. The appearance of celebrities on social media and TV and in films also strongly influences facial plastic surgery trends.
One source reports that the celebrities with all of their social media power most likely to influence the decision to have plastic surgery are:
- Kim Kardashian
- Brad Pitt
- Bradley Cooper
- Kylie Jenner
It’s not an infrequent occurrence for a patient to talk about a specific celebrity’s social media post that influenced them to get eyelid surgery, a facelift, or chin liposuction.
Patients often bring Instagram posts to the plastic surgery office to show surgeons how they want their lips, noses, brows, and skin to look. While it can be a problem to become too focused on looking like someone else, bringing images to your surgeon can help them to communicate how they want to look.
However, patients should be aware that many celebrities’ social media images have been Photoshopped or Facetuned to make them look almost perfect. In that case, the surgeon needs to educate them that the results from physical surgery probably will not match what a computer program can achieve.
Also, celebrities can drive plastic surgery trends, but they may fade with time. For example, Pamela Anderson was famous in the 1990s for her large breast implants, which caused many women to get plus-sized implants. But in recent times, the trend in breast implants is for less obvious and more subtle implants.
That’s why many women have undergone breast revision surgery to remove the D-cup implants and replace them with a more subtle B- or C-cup. Patients need to request a plastic surgery procedure that is best for them and not necessarily what is ‘trending’ in social media or Hollywood at the moment.
Potential Societal Benefits Of Social Media And Plastic Surgery
While managing patient expectations is essential when dealing with ‘perfect’ social media images of the face, social media can be used positively in plastic surgery.
For example, it can be an excellent reference for potential patients who seek information from surgeons about cosmetic procedures they are considering. Some surgeons even use their own sites or social media channels to release educational documents about surgical details and recovery.
There’s no question that social media is driving some of the trends in plastic surgery, and managed properly, this isn’t a problem. It’s up to the plastic surgeon and the patient to work together to determine the best procedures for their particular situation and body type. Relying too much on unrealistic or deceiving social media images can lead to results that may not be ideal for the patient.