Selfies are everywhere. We see selfies all over social media and we see people taking selfies all around us. Chances are, we’ve taken a few ourselves. It is estimated that the average millennial is expected to take over 25,000 selfies during their lifetime.
The selfie is so prevalent in our culture, it is starting to distort our perception of how we look. According to JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, researchers report that selfies taken at a distance of around 12 inches from the face increases perceived nose size by nearly 30% in males and 29% in females.
That means when we take a selfie from a somewhat-close distance, we see our noses as wider and thicker than they really are. This distorted perception might be causing people to seek out surgeries to correct a perceived flaw.
The Power of Social Media
According to a 2018 poll, 55% of facial plastic surgeons reported having patients seeking cosmetic procedures to improve their appearance in selfies and on social media. Washington University facial plastic surgeon John Chi, MD, says “In addition to rhinoplasty, the selfie effect and social media have led to a rise in patients seeking treatment for other previously-unseen imperfections, such as a double chin, prominent ears or a turkey neck.”
Because people are sharing images in real time in large numbers, social media has a recognized power and influence on the cosmetic plastic surgery industry. Across the industry, cosmetic surgeries are trending upwards. Rhinoplasty was the third most common cosmetic surgical procedure in 2017, with breast augmentation at number one.
One plastic surgeon attributes the rise in elective procedures to the fact that people seem more free to seek out plastic surgery…the social stigma surrounding it is quickly fading.
Another reason may be that rhinoplasty and other forms of plastic surgery are generally considered safe. With any surgery, however, there are risks: complications can include infection, poor wound healing and skin discoloration.
Another risk involves the expectation levels of someone seeking plastic surgery. It’s very important for anyone thinking about facial plastic surgery to find a well-trained, board-certified physician. An experienced surgeon will guide you through a thorough consultation where you will review if you are a candidate for surgery, and what results you can realistically expect. Washington University facial plastic surgeon Gregory Branham, MD, says “Selfies tend to distort facial proportions because of the way the camera is held so close to the face. Central features such as the nose appear much larger and distorted. Keep this in mind when setting a goal for your appearance and don’t base it on your selfie image.”