Social media was once home to the anonymous. One could be whomever or whatever they chose to be, and remain hidden behind a screen name and keyboard. Then came sites like Facebook, where posting pictures and commenting on other people’s images instantly became part of the fun. Many quietly spy on their peers and betters in this online realm, where sourcing photos on Google took scant milliseconds.
Comparing and Self-Criticising
People critique what they see online, and what they see in the mirror. Moreover, we receive the criticism from others—strangers or mere acquaintances, for the most part.
This culture of voyeurism is fueling the ever-increasing demand for plastic surgery. As people compare themselves to those in the social media world, they begin to notice little areas of themselves that can use a bit of improvement. A nip here, a lift there, bigger this and smaller that. As a result, the American Academy of Facial and Reconstructive Surgery is reporting an uptick of plastic surgery requests—some of which they attribute to social media pressure.
Google is Forever
Everyone from prospective employers to first dates use Google and Facebook to scope a person out, so it stands to reason that the person in question wants their very best image front and center, even if that means heading to the surgeon for a tweak.
Breast augmentation remains the most requested form of plastic surgery, but simpler treatments like Botox and lip enhancement remain popular and more affordable choices for many. In fact, 13 million Americans underwent these less invasive treatments in 2012.
Social Media, Pop Culture and Body Image
While much is made about celebrities being the cause of body issues—who’s fat, who’s thin, who’s had a lift?—it is more likely that people compare themselves to the online appearances of friends and acquaintances. Celebrities represent the unattainable for most, but there’s a need in many to be seen as the star of their social circle.
For some, this slips into the dangerous territory of body dysmorphia, a disorder that has some sufferers using plastic surgery as a form of self-mutilation or abuse, akin to self-harm. Scrupulous surgeons who truly have their patients’ best interests at heart will do psychological assessments to screen out those with dysmorphia, and direct them to seek help and recovery.
Make it Work for You
In addition to fueling demand for cosmetic procedures, sites like Google and Facebook offer an opportunity for would-be patients to research specialists in the cosmetic dermatology surgery field. Social media reviews and posted pictures of a surgeon’s work can help narrow the search for a savvy consumer. Contact information is readily available online, as well as areas of specialty—be it breasts, eyes, lips or rhinoplasty.
Using Google, a prospective patient can search by location and specialty then delve further into the top search results. Once they have a list of names, they can use the search engine to cross-reference the names with words like “satisfied” or “malpractice” to get a handle on a surgeon’s performance.
While this particular use of social media hasn’t been used to its full potential yet, the careful consumer is discovering its value in the search for the best, safest, cleanest and most affordable plastic surgery.