A picture-perfect nose job: how the selfie is boosting demand for plastic surgery

But not everyone’s pleased with the way they look
But not everyone’s pleased with the way they look
Image: Reuters/Carlo Allegri
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In the quest for the perfect selfie, some folks seem to have decided that no photo-editing app to is good enough to smooth out the wrinkles: nothing less than old-school plastic surgery will do.

An annual study released earlier this year by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery showed that one in three surveyed doctors have seen an increase in requests for surgery due to patients’ dissatisfaction with their image on social media. As a result, the report says, American surgeons saw a 10% increase in rhinoplasty from 2012 to 2013, a 7% rise in hair transplants, and 6% in eyelid surgery.

Doctors say patients come to them with selfies they took to show where they think they need improvement. Some surgeons point out that with the selfie’s characteristically distorted angle, it does not provide an accurate representation of one’s face. “I refuse a significant proportion of patients with selfies because I believe it is not a real image of what they actually look like in person,” Dr. Sam Rizk, a Manhattan-based plastic surgeon told Reuters.

Many of the requests come from a generation increasingly defined by social media. Over half of the surgeons surveyed saw a rise in procedures performed on patients under 30, a sign of the impact of platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat on the falling self-esteem of the young.

A fresh face for your selfie isn’t the only reason the Instagram-obsessed visit the plastic surgeon. Elle reported earlier this year that with the now-obligatory social media engagement announcement, women are getting hand lifts—yes, hand lifts—to “appropriately” show off their wedding bling. Dr. Ariel Ostad, a New York dermatologist told the magazine that he has seen a 40% increase in the procedure, which smoothes out the skin on the fingers, since the advent of social media.

Another fix for the Internet generation? Patients with constant computer-face come in to get their “tech necks” done—getting rid of the wrinkles on the neck caused by leaning into their screens 24/7.

For your future selfie endeavors, some words of caution. The perfect selfie may come with a hefty price-tag from the plastic surgeon, but if you are striving for that extra arm’s length with a “selfie stick,” it could also land you in jail.