The Selfie Plastic Surgery Situation, Dr. Wigoda Discusses the Selfie Status

Selfie Plastic Surgery is the latest news trend with one in three facial plastic surgeons seeing an uptick in patients requesting procedures thanks to the status of social media’s selfie craze. Dr Paul Wigoda says it’s not just the selfie obsession, it also has to do with vanity, confidence and aging appearance.

selfie plastic surgery


Oxford Dictionaries’ 2013 word of the year was “selfie” because of the drastic climb in usage, but has the popularity of the selfie resulted in an increase in cosmetic surgery?


The latest statistics by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery suggest that one in three facial plastic surgeons said there was an increase in the number of patients requesting procedures because they are “more self-aware of looks in social media.” However, the world “selfie” was never used in the survey of plastic surgeons so the idea that selfies are the largest contributing factor to this rise is merely speculation.


It’s true that social platforms like Instagram and Snapchat encourage users to photograph themselves regularly which leads to them scrutinizing their image with a more self-critical eye than ever before, but selfies may not be solely to blame despite the media is trying to popularize the concept. Apps like SkinneePix which lets users shed virtual weight so their faces look skinnier are raising concerns about health and body-image issues and increasing conversations and concerns about selfies making it a hot topic. Allow me to bring a plastic surgeon’s perspective to the conversation.


I have had patients come in wanting surgery after seeing themselves in a photograph, not necessarily a selfie or (at least they don’t admit that to me). Oftentimes it’s a family or group photo and they notice things they hadn’t before. I believe social media may play a contributing factor because patients are realizing that once their photos are on the web and tagged they are out there for the entire Internet community to see.


From my experience, the selfie craze is not creating the desire for cosmetic procedures on its own. It’s likely that the patient has been thinking about the procedure over time and the photos they review solidify the idea that they want or need to take action, opposed to them suddenly realizing “something is wrong” because they see it in a picture.


The majority of the complaints I receive related to patients wanting to look better in their photos are typical aging-related issues, so the concern that selfies are encouraging younger people to undergo plastic surgery is probably less dramatic number than is being suggested. Sagging neck and jowls, deep nasolabial folds, bags under the eyes and crows feet are the more commonly discussed issues, some of which can be improved with fillers and botox, and some require surgery such as a face and neck lift or eyelid surgery. Probably the most significant procedure that is requested is nose reshaping because patients found that they didn’t like the way their nose looked in profile and didn’t appreciate it until they saw it in a picture because they always looked at their nose from the front.


We definitely find that people are taking their selfies seriously but are they causing an increase in cosmetic surgery overall and, more specifically, to a younger demographic? No. In fact, a survey conducted by the Today Show just last month found that 65 percent of teen girls think selfies boost their confidence. The idea that selfies raise body-image issues fits perfectly into our popular cultural narrative that “kids take selfies and selfies are bad” but as far as plastic surgery is concerned this is only a rumor that it is causing an increase in procedures.

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