We’re constantly snapping photos and sharing them on social media, many of them of ourselves or, at least, including us. In the process, we’re giving ourselves a lot of material to scrutinize. And increasingly, many of us perceive ourselves through the lens of our own social media accounts.
There’s both good and bad to that. On one hand, it’s very reassuring to have a library of positive memories just a tap and a swipe away at any given moment. But it’s also compelling us to hold a microscope up to our own images and be more self-critical than ever before—even as we shape a sort of alternate reality in which they exist.
Because here’s the thing: Very rarely are we posting those photos without first applying a filter in Instagram or Snapchat or manipulating it in an editing app like FaceTune. Over the last few years, as it’s become commonplace, it’s also become clear that social media is shaping beauty trends and the way we see ourselves.
Another tool in the beauty arsenal
Coinciding with the rise of social media and our so-called “selfie culture” has been the growing acceptance of cosmetic surgery, particularly facial plastic surgery. Today, a growing majority of people in their twenties on up through middle age have come to perceive it as just another tool in their beauty arsenal.
Minimally-invasive treatments designed to help patients enhance their natural appearance have been at the forefront of that movement. They’ve grown 228% since 2000, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
A few, in particular, driven largely by our relentless pursuit of the ideal selfie, have become especially popular, including the non-surgical nose job, which is also commonly referred to as “liquid rhinoplasty.” A hyaluronic acid filler is injected into the nose to camouflage imperfections or improve its contour—all in a matter of 15 minutes. Depending on the filler used, results can last for one to two years.
Eyelid procedures designed to make you look less tired are another. In one such case, a hyaluronic acid filler is injected below the under-eye fat pocket, which makes the under-eye circles less prominent.
And platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, injections are being used for everything from “vampire facials” to helping with hair loss. The treatments have been around for a while, but the research supporting their effectiveness has been mounting over the last few years. The theory is that plasma, enriched with growth factors, can be used to rejuvenate and regenerate soft tissue.
A window into the patient’s mind
I know there’s a lot out there about how this obsession with selfies is signaling the beginning of the end, and I am concerned that “selfie culture” leading to unrealistic standards. But I’ve also found them helpful as a reference during consultations with my patients.
Based on what they tell me they like or don’t like about what they see in a given photo of themselves, it becomes easier for me to understand what they’re thinking and what they’re striving for. And that’s only going to improve the result.