Selfies May Be Driving Interest in Plastic Surgery

April 12, 2022 Tags:

woman with curly hair lying in bed with white sheets and pillow cases taking a selfie smiling at smart phone above her head with outstretched arms

A new study from UT Southwestern researchers, published in Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, shows an unexpected consequence of social media and selfie culture. The front-facing camera on smartphones usually referred to as the “selfie” camera, can distort facial features, which may be driving an uptick in requests for plastic surgery, especially in the younger crowd.

Patients are increasingly using photographs they’ve taken on a smartphone camera to discuss their goals with a plastic surgeon. The study leader, Bardia Amirlak, MD, explained the documented relationship between the increase in selfie photos and the increase in requests for rhinoplasty, particularly among younger patients. However, because cameras can distort images, especially when taken at close range, selfies may not reflect an individual’s true appearance. He commented that “If young people are using selfies as their only guide, they may be coming to plastic surgeons to fix problems that don’t exist except in the world of social media.”

According to Plastic Surgery Practice, the study included 30 volunteers: 23 women and seven men. The researchers took three photos of each person, two at different lengths away from the face, with a cellphone to simulate selfies taken with a bent or straight arm. The third photo was taken from 5 feet with a digital single-lens reflex camera, typically used in plastic surgery clinics. The three images were taken in the same sitting under standard lighting conditions. The selfies showed significant distortions compared to the standard clinical photograph, and participants noted this, reflected in how they rated the photos when compared side by side.

According to one of the study’s researchers, Carrie McAdams, MD, Ph.D., these distorted images can have a lasting impact on how selfie-takers see themselves. “As the popularity of selfie photography increases,” the study authors concluded, “it is crucial to understand how they distort facial features and how patients use them to communicate.”

Visiting a board-certified plastic surgeon to discuss realistic options is imperative when considering plastic surgery. Schedule a consultation with Dr. J. J. Wendel Plastic Surgery in Nashville today to get started.

Learn More