Are selfies causing an increase in cosmetic surgery?

Increasing numbers of people are seeking surgery for their perfect portrait online.

Selfies and cosmetic surgery

There has been growing belief among a number of surgeons that selfies – photos we take of ourselves, often shared on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter - are fuelling a rise in cosmetic procedures. 

Not only has it been attributed to £100million increase in UK cosmetic sales since 20151 but a survey from the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) suggests that the increases in everything from rhinoplasty (nose jobs), to hair transplants and eyelid surgery, are linked to the popularity of selfies and their online prevalence.

What are the statistics?

The AAFPRS conducts an annual poll, studying a selection of their 2,700 members. Their 2014 poll revealed that one in three of the facial plastic surgeons saw an increase in people requesting procedures because of how they felt about their social media appearance. They noticed:

  • A 10% increase in rhinoplasty or 'nose-jobs'
  • A 7% increase in hair transplants
  • A 6% increase in eyelid surgery

The previous year’s survey also found that young people in particular were seeking cosmetic procedures, with over half (58%) of facial plastic surgeons surveyed in 2013 citing an increase in cosmetic surgery or injectable surgery (such as anti-wrinkle injections) for those aged under 30, in 2013. Less invasive surgeries made up almost 3 quarters of all procedures carried out on 2013. Women accounted for 81% of all procedures (both surgical and non-surgical) in 2013. Rhinoplasty is the most popular cosmetic procedure for both men (90% of procedures) and women (86% of procedures) under 352.

Is this trend a cause for concern?

Selfies and cosmetic surgery

Given the recent and rapid growth in social media, and the role it now plays in many aspects of people’s lives, - not just our social lives but our romantic and professional ones too - it is perhaps unsurprising that people are going to greater lengths to achieve the results they want. 

In regards to concern, it could be too soon to say how the increase in cosmetic procedures might develop, but professionals stress the need for careful consideration before going ahead.

What to consider if you’re thinking about surgery

If you’re thinking about cosmetic surgery, there are a number of things to keep in mind. Since most surgeries require general anesthetic, you’ll have to spend at least one night in hospital, and take time off work to recover. There would also be an in depth consultation with the surgeon to discuss everything your motives, the procedure, and the expected results. Before this consultation however, it’s important to think seriously about your reasons for seeking treatment. BMI would recommend writing down your thoughts, or discussing them with someone you trust, are good places to start. 

Considering your expectations, other ways you might achieve the results you want, and perhaps most importantly, why you’re considering surgery, will help you decide if you wish to move forward and speak with a doctor3. Find out more about the different cosmetic treatment options available here. If you're considering cosmetic surgery, read about what you can expect.

David Crawford Mr David Crawford, Consultant Plastic, Reconstructive & Cosmetic Surgeon at BMI The Princess Margaret Hospital comments:

With technological advances of hi-tech phones, iPads and video calls, patients have become more self-aware of their appearance. In consultation, many patients will state that they don’t mind their frontal face in photos, but it's side profiles and other angles used for selfies and social media that triggers worries of appearance and incites them to do something about it, often caused by a public photograph.

With these new devices and media encouraging this and the ever increasing popularity of social media, it is no surprise that these images reinforce or cause concerns about facial and other body areas appearance.

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