Selfies & Social Media Driving Cosmetic Surgery
Posted by Dr. Sam Rizk January, 01/12/2016 - 09:00 AM
Over the past couple of years, plastic surgeons have reported more and more people seeking cosmetic surgery enhancements in direct response to the social media craze — and more specifically, the popularity of selfie photos. Popular fixes include rhinoplasty, treatments for wrinkles, and even procedures to make the hands appear more youthful.
With the advent of the “selfie stick,” this trend shows no signs of abating. Moreover, the increased use of video clips in place of still images on social media is encouraging those concerned about aging to seek treatments such as neurotoxin injectables like Botox, Dysport or Xeomin for wrinkles that appear while smiling, talking or laughing. Statistics from major cosmetic surgery organizations show that these treatments are becoming ever more popular each year.
Video is also leading patients to seek invasive procedures because, in contrast to still images, video cannot be altered to minimize the appearance of features such as a double chin or crooked nose.
The Rise of Cosmetic Surgery
All of this is occurring amidst a rise in the popularity of cosmetic surgery procedures. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), 15.6 million minimally-invasive/surgical cosmetic procedures were performed in the U.S. in 2014, an increase of 3 percent compared to 2013.
According to another organization, the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), minimally invasive procedures, or those that do not require significant downtime, are the most popular facial cosmetic procedures, representing four out of five procedures performed in 2014. Botox continues to be the most popular of these treatments, representing about half of all minimally invasive procedures performed in 2014. Other popular treatments include hyaluronic acid fillers such as Restylane, Juvederm, and Belotero.
In addition, for the year 2014, some 71 percent of AAFPRS member surgeons reported an increase in combinations of non-surgical procedures performed on the same patient to hold off aging without having to undergo invasive surgery.
Treatments for aging in the eyes and cheeks continue to gain in popularity, with 74 percent of AAFPRS members reporting that patients had asked for eyelid surgery, laser resurfacing and fillers to help them appear less tired. Sixty-three percent of member surgeons reported requests for fillers and fat injections designed to enhance the appearance of the cheeks and provide increased volume.
According to the ASPS, cosmetic procedures as a whole (face and body) rose 1 percent in 2014, to almost 1.7 million procedures total. The five most popular surgical procedures among ASPS members’ patients were breast augmentation, rhinoplasty, liposuction, eyelid surgery, and facelift.
Social Media’s Influence: A Disturbing Trend
The increasing popularity of selfies on social media has made people aware of their appearance to an extent unheard of just a few years ago. This focus — some might say obsession — on appearance clearly stems from the desire to make an impression on those around us, using social media. In other words, many social media users turn to cosmetic enhancement to enhance their status among social media friends and connections, and sexy images of cleavage or pouty lips are sure to garner more Likes, ReTweets and so forth.
But the link between selfies, social media, and cosmetic surgery is a potentially dangerous trend. For one, it has led teens who are too young to undergo cosmetic enhancement to obsess over just that. And it gets worse. Earlier this year, in response to selfie images of reality TV personality Kylie Jenner‘s lips on social media, many teens went to disturbing lengths to emulate their idol. It started when, using the hashtag #KylieJennerLipChallenge, a social media user encouraged teens to put a glass over their lips for five minutes, the idea is to create an airlock on the skin that would have the effect of plumping the lips, just like Kylie’s. Unfortunately, the actual result was bruised faces. The glass technique led to burst blood vessels and painful marks, not pouty lips. Where this dangerous social media trend started is unclear. However, the hashtag spread like wildfire, with hundreds of posts appearing in a matter of days across a variety of social media platforms.
In this environment, reputable cosmetic surgeons take special care to caution their patients to avoid overreacting to their appearance in selfies. Selfies are taken with a wide-angle lens from just an arms-length distance, which makes just about anyone look less appealing. If you are considering cosmetic enhancement solely due to the way you look in selfies, you should take a step back and reassess.
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