Is Social Media Driving Demand for Cosmetic Surgery?

Social Media is playing a huge role when it comes to self-esteem and this is obvious by just looking at the countless number of body images consistently being uploaded on a daily basis across different platforms.

Research from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reveals that Americans are seeking out cosmetic surgery and augmentations at an exponential rate. Last year (2016) alone saw almost 17 million surgical procedures and minimally invasive procedures being performed.

Breast Augmentation dominates this with the no.1 spot with Liposuction as the close second and facial related surgeries are seeing an unprecedented growth.

Non-invasive or minimally invasive procedures topped 15 million in 2016 and this is only the tip of the iceberg.

In January 2017 it was reported that there are currently 2.7 billion active social media users in the world right now.  It’s safe to say that social media has opened up the world and as our vision of the world has grown, the pressure to ‘keep up’ has become intense on all accounts.

All of the above points to the increase of body images/selfies on social media- Facebook/Instagram and apps like Snapchat. The world is looking for self-validation and this is very evident by the number of images people post on a daily basis and expect comments/compliments. People everywhere now realize that if Filters and airbrushed effects can dramatically alter their appearance, then why not opt for plastic/cosmetic surgery for a more permanent look.

Social media has impacted people’s self-esteem and has been driving them to look better constantly. With everyone constantly having access to ‘perfect’ celeb images, ads on how to look perfect and more beautiful, information on where to go to get their bodies and faces altered has changed the way cosmetic surgery operates. That level of looking flawless that was previously reserved only for high profile models, actors/actresses is now easily available for the masses.

Even Men have become the major drivers of the demand. Between 1997-2015, the number of surgeries for men increased by more than 1.2 million procedures. Whilst social media platforms have predominantly been a woman’s domain, men have now increasingly started to post and share body images and the metrosexual movement over the past decade has only added onto it.

But there is an equally dark side to this aspect of ‘body image’ that is going around on social media platforms and this is to do with the fact that most amongst us are blurring the lines between what’s real and what’s not in terms of physical appearances. Blown up lips, poreless skin, noses and cheeks contoured and shaped into absolute perfection, breast and other body part enhancements that defy both gravity and reality- have all changed the perception of what beauty truly is? Followers of celebrities who can afford to go under a surgeon’s knife at the drop of a hat are influencing young tweens/teens everywhere and also women/men in their 30s/40s/50s and beyond with devastating effects. For these young and not so young impressionable minds- beauty is about perfection and constant change in physical looks and this has led to a ‘Crisis’ in self-image and self-appreciation. A crisis in confidence that no social media app can seemingly have an answer to.

A significant reason is that more than a decade ago celebs were less likely to openly admit to getting surgical enhancements done; but with the recent rise of apps/filters in Snapchat & Instagram- celebs like e.g. Kylie Jenner, reality TV stars like Kim Kardashian and her family have a massive influence as they are open about their treatments, appearances and use these apps/platforms to garner fan following on a daily basis by dramatically altering their images.

So apart from peer pressure and all kinds of societal pressure, there is the added aspect of ‘no stigma’ attached around cosmetic surgery as it did earlier. Combining these- it’s no wonder then that young and not so young women are lining up to change their appearances which has resulted in ‘duck lips’ or ‘trout pout’ catastrophes as one of the most asked for enhancements in a long list.

Why do women want bigger lips is probably more of a psychological question than just a physical appearance based one!

In fact there is a clear divide now- between those (the millenials- 18-24 year olds) who want to look good just so they look better on their social media profiles/pictures and those (older age groups) who want surgical enhancements just to feel good about themselves- if this is the driving force then it tells us a lot of where we are at as a collective society.

“Social Media is a double-edged sword for Cosmetic Surgery. It has increased the awareness of the general public who are well informed of the pros and cons of the individual procedures. It can work hand in hand with the cosmetic surgery community to make it safer for patients.

On the other hand, the hypes about over-inflated lips on Instagram or disproportionately large buttocks on the internet is pushing the boundaries of normality and altering the expectations of the average patient. The visual compass of modern day clients are set by the photo-shopped pictures that we all see in the glossy magazines.”

Understanding real results and effects versus altered images from social media that clients/patients bring as references is the key here. Counselling is also one of the most effective ways to understand why a young woman/man wants to undergo the surgery- what are the true motivations behind that and most importantly making them understand that cosmetic surgery is a serious affair and not a dalliance as they are used to on social media.

A vicious cycle that must be addressed so that everyone understands the repercussions/effects and true benefits of cosmetic surgery. It’s great when understood well.

We must begin by raising awareness and illuminating the fact that often social media profiles and images are not the real world, and that what looks good on someone or on a screen may not necessarily look good on another person. Human beings are not clones and yet we seem to be cloning each other drastically.

The true origins of Cosmetic Surgery come from a place of adding value that enhances an individual’s life in a way that is physically and mentally geared up to face challenges and this is what we at Aesthetic Beauty Centre strive to achieve.

For a free one on one consultation call 0191 567 2900

-Dr Ash Dutta