Are Selfies Causing an Increase in Plastic Surgery?

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When is the last time you took a “Selfie”? How many times did you retake the picture? Was it because of the way your neck looked? Your eyes? Your nose? Your skin? Did you decide to do something about it? Well, you're not alone. According to a new study by the American Academy of Facial Plastic Surgeons (AAFPRS), one in three facial plastic surgeons surveyed saw an increase in demand for facial procedures due to an increased awareness of one's own looks as seen with social media. As popularity in social media sharing sites like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and the iPhone app Selfie.im increases, so does the critical nature at which people see themselves. These image-based sites force people to see themselves with microscopic clarity not previously seen. The amount of disapproval experienced when viewing oneself so closely can be profound. After multiple retakes of the picture, some people give up and decide to fix the "problem" areas once and for all. In this study, 13 percent of facial plastic surgeons surveyed identified increased photo sharing and dissatisfaction with their own image on social media as a rising trend in practice. In fact, AAFPRS members saw a 10 percent increase in rhinoplasty during 2013 when compared to 2012, as well as a 6 percent jump in eyelid surgery.
Facial plastic surgeons weren't the only ones to see this rising trend in 2013. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the organization of general plastic surgeons who treat the face and body, also showed a 6 percent increase from 2012 in eyelid surgery, a 6 percent rise in facelifts, and a 3 percent increase in Botulinum toxin type A treatments (Botox, Dysport) and chemical peels. Soft tissue fillers use increased by 13 percent when compared to the year prior, as well.

YOU NEVER GET A SECOND CHANCE TO MAKE A FIRST IMPRESSION
While most of us are all too familiar with the awkward candid shot someone has taken of us (while stuffing food into our faces at a party or guffawing at a funny joke, for example), "selfies" are usually posed pics we take ourselves, which make them all the more unacceptable. To make matters worse, especially for young people, these are often the first images they put out there to prospective friends or employers, or even more critical, to romantic interests. They want to put their best foot (or face, really) forward, so many decide to visit a plastic surgeon to make this a reality.

SAY CHEESE
As a surgeon who see many patients dissatisfied with their appearance for one reason or another, I must caution against running into the office for the "quick-fix". Many times, websites and apps like Skype, FaceTime and Facebook, do not accurately represent the individual's true appearance. This may be due to the person taking the picture being at an awkward angle (like looking downward or strangely upward) or being too close to the lens of the camera. Instead of potentially seeking unnecessary procedures, I recommend visiting a board certified plastic surgeon for full facial evaluation in a neutral position.

APPROPRIATE CANDIDATES FOR SURGERY
If a patient is found to exhibit an anatomic feature that can benefit from aesthetic intervention, then he or she might need a facelift, eyelid surgery, or skin care evaluation. However, it is important for patients to be confident and happy with who they are before undergoing surgery. While there are many technological advances in the aesthetic field today, like liquid facelifts and neck lifts, allowing for a customized and natural result, it is important to understand that these procedures will not drastically change who the individual patient is. Subtly is the key in facial plastic surgery. It is important for the patient to have a strong sense of self and realistic expectations.

NON-SURGICAL TREATMENTS FOR FACIAL REJUVENATION
Since photos have become such a common part of everyday life, younger individuals are becoming increasingly aware of the aging process. For many of these patients, surgery is not desired, nor recommended. A medical grade skin care regimen is usually the first step for treatment. Often, chemical peels or facials are a good starting point. Minimally invasive treatments like soft tissue fillers, fat transfer, and Botulinum toxin type A have become more appealing options to consider as well. With a combination of these treatments, fine lines and wrinkles can be addressed successfully without undergoing surgery.

FINDING A GOOD SURGEON
When dealing with surgery for your appearance, whether for your face or your body, it is imperative that you find a surgeon who is well trained and experienced. This can be assured by finding a surgeon who is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. In order to attain board certification status, a rigorous process must be undertaken that consists of at least 3 years of general surgical training (most complete 5-6 years) followed by 2 years of specialized training in plastic surgery. A 400-question comprehensive standardized exam is completed followed by evaluation of surgical technique and decision making in the clinical setting through an Oral Examination. This comprehensive process takes up to 2 years after training to complete, but ensures that your surgeon is knowledgeable, thoughtful, and capable.
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Nashville Plastic Surgeon