After having been named 2013’s word of the year by the Oxford English Dictionary, the significant impact of the “selfie” on current culture cannot be denied. The seemingly innocuous snapshots so many of us have taken and instantaneously shared via social media platforms have become commonplace among all age groups and demographics. However, a recent study suggests that the effect of these images on their subjects may be more profound than many likely suspected.
The results of a survey conducted by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) tells a startling story about the link between social media and plastic surgery.
According to the yearly poll of a select segment of the organization’s 2,700 participating members, well over 30% of facial plastic surgery professionals witnessed growth in the number of inquiries made by patients who feel more self-conscious about their appearance because of social media use.
Members reported a sizable jump in patient dissatisfaction with their image as depicted on popular social media sites, along with increased interest in:
Many of the members polled in this study directly linked client use of photo-sharing sites such as Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat with newfound concern over facial appearance and a desire for corrective procedures or surgical enhancement. Given the propensity of teenagers and young adults to use these platforms with greater frequency than older portions of the population, it should come as no surprise that over half of those surveyed reported a rise in cosmetic surgery as well as injectable fillers in patients younger than 30 years of age.
The results of the AAFPRS survey have garnered significant media attention in recent days, and have spurred hearty debate about the societal trends they reveal.
On one side of the discussion are those who feel that social media sites are engendering a dangerous degree of narcissism and self-criticism that are harmful, particularly to younger users who feel they have no choice but to go under the knife in order to measure up to the expectations of their peers.
Alternatively, there are those who assert that social media photo-sharing sites offer an invaluable vehicle for making a positive first impression on potential friends, mates and employers alike, and that there is nothing wrong with wanting to present the best possible image, even if that means making some physical alterations. The added self-esteem that facial plastic surgery and other cosmetic procedures can provide, it is argued, can be truly transformational for those who merely wish to fulfill their true potential.
The proliferation of social media usage shows no signs of slowing anytime soon, and therefore it seems certain that the debate about the connection between such sites and the growing demand for plastic surgery is likely to persist as well. While cosmetic procedures should never be undertaken lightly, the positive difference a skilled practitioner can make in the lives of patients should not be underestimated.
If you are interested in learning more about a wide range of plastic surgery procedures and cosmetic treatment options, contact Dr. Loeb’s Fifth Avenue office at 212.327.3700.
Chicago Tribune, Picture this: Selfies lead some to surgery, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-talk-huppke-selfies-20140318,0,1165834.story
National Geographic, The Science of Selfies: A Five-City Comparison, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/02/140226-selfie-photography-word-of-the-year-sociology-digital/
Skin Inc., Annual Study Finds Selfies Are Impacting Facial Plastic Surgery Requests, http://www.skininc.com/spabusiness/medicalesthetics/Annual-Study-Finds-Selfies-Are-Impacting-Facial-Plastic-Surgery-Requests-249831081.html