October 2, 2019

The Selfie Effect

The selfie effect

Phones, FaceTime, video conferencing, selfies - we have never spent so much time looking at ourselves while we live and work. These same technological advances have improved medicine and placed super computers on our wrists. These daily interactions with cameras and screens is influencing our concepts of beauty and changes how we perceive ourselves and sometimes what we see is not reality. 8 West Clinic is your partner in developing a plan that cuts through all the current buzz.

The Selfie Effect

In our practice, Dr. Thomas Buonassisi is seeing a rise in patients bringing selfies to their consultations.“They are bringing in pictures from Facebook and Instagram or even selfies they have taken and they are unhappy with how they look,” says Dr. Buonassisi. “It’s often a very specific photo or a specific style of photo. When we take our medical images at the office or even have them look in mirror the difference can be quite dramatic.”It leads to a conversation that these patients don’t always expect. Dr. Buonassisi says patients can become upset when he shares that the results they want cannot always be achieved with surgery.“If you are thinking of having cosmetic surgery just to change how you look in a photo, I think you are better off using some photo editing techniques,” he said. “I don’t think surgery should be used to make photos look better.”Patients with these concerns are becoming more common. So much so that a group of surgeons took a deeper look at the distorted perception of selfie images. The 2018 study found that when a camera is held 30 cm away from your face, as is typical for a selfie, it can distort the perception of your nose by up to 30 percent. A photo taken at standard portrait distance of five feet does not change the perceived size. A poll taken by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons found 55 percent of surgeons encountered patients who wanted surgery to improve their appearance in selfies.This same distortion can influence satisfaction with cosmetic procedures. Post-operative results reviewed in selfie images can have the same distorted perception.

Shifting Goals

The same poll found that the influence of looking closely at ourselves more often is also leading to a growing emphasis on early care or “pre-juvenation” by patients in their 20's and 30's. The cultural norms of sun care and self care along with the normalization of plastic surgery procedures has younger patients trending to interventions that allow patients to remain youthful rather than fight the signs of aging.“When we look at images of celebrities or other people in the media we have to be aware of how they have been edited and often they can look very different from what they look like in real life. It’s not healthy to look at those as the ideal aesthetic. They can’t be recreated by surgery because they are not real,” says Dr. Buonassisi. “However, there is a lot we can do to help patients create a long-term plan to preserve the appearance of youth.”The aesthetic trend is toward natural-looking results - less invasive results-driven and confidence boosting treatments like injectables, lasers, peels and microneedling are in more demand than ever, he says.

Reality Check

The trend of filters and easy, near instant, photo editing software is blurring the lines between reality and art and impacting mental health and realistic outcomes for cosmetic procedures. A paper published last year echoes Dr. Buonassisi’s concerns that young people have distorted views of themselves and unattainable expectations for medical procedures. He talks about it more in this video.“I think at this stage in history, some of our younger patients are spending so much time on social media and interacting with others online that they are getting a distorted sense of what they look like in real life,” he said. “They can be more concerned about what their Instagram photo looks like than they are in real life. I don’t think that is healthy.”This new distorted perception influenced by technology also has created a scenario where trusting your doctor is more important than ever. At the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) and the Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation (ASERF) annual meeting in May 2019 plastic surgeons raised concerns of less scrupulous surgeons editing photos or using different portraiture techniques in after photos that visually minimized noses. Best practices should present before and after pictures taken in a standard set up with surgical after photos taken a year post-surgery.


Never have our faces and bodies been under more scrutiny. Social media and camera technology are altering the perceptions of ourselves and influence our goals and aspirations. It’s more important than ever to choose a physician you trust and has a positive reputation with patients and colleagues.A conversation with your doctor should thoroughly discuss your goals. At 8 West Clinic that discussion reviews your motivations and your concerns. It builds a strategy that is grounded in reality and creates results and realistic expectations to have you feeling and looking like the best version of yourself.The procedures you choose should be an evolution from your goals, guided by best practices from an excellent doctor and supported from start to recovery by their team. Dr. Buonassisi selects patients who want to make natural and subtle changes to features that can be safely addressed with surgery.“I know the important balance of being kind and creating realistic expectations,” he says. “We have the greatest success with patients who seek an improvement, not perfection.”


Book a Pre Consultation

If you are thinking about having cosmetic surgery, we strongly recommend you take advantage of our complimentary pre consultation. This is a discussion with a knowledgeable patient care expert who can help determine what procedure might be right for you, give you more information about recovery andhelp schedule a meeting with Dr. Buonassisi if you are ready to take that step.

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