Social Media and Plastic Surgery

I’ve been reading in various places that social media is really giving plastic surgery a leg up—that it’s been giving plastic surgery a nice “lift.” (Haha, get it?) Well, I’m not sure I can argue with that. But what I can do is give it a little context.

Because the conclusion that many people will jump to is rather unflattering. Of course social media produces an uptick in plastic surgery interest: selfies are narcissistic and so is plastic surgery, so they’re a match made in heaven. Unfortunately, that might make for a good headline, but it leaves out some important truths.

You Can’t Avoid Yourself

My dad hated getting his picture taken. I remember as a kid he not only avoided the camera, he avoided looking at the pictures. That was a long time ago. The problem that social media presents in the modern era (wow, how old do I sound?) is that you simply cannot avoid looking at your picture.

When you sign on to Facebook, all of the pictures of you are there. Same when you sign on to Instagram or Snapchat or Twitter. Even if you never take pictures of yourself, other people are going to take pictures of you—and those pictures (because people tag them) are unavoidable. And once they’re on the internet, they’re on the internet forever.

There’s no avoiding pictures of yourself. And for people who are self-conscious about certain aspects of their looks, that can be kind of nightmarish. It’s not unthinkable then, that if you can’t avoid your picture you might want to improve it.

Social Currency of Social Media

I also want to push back on this notion that social media is only for the narcissist. There is a great deal of social currency in Facebook or Twitter. Here’s what I mean: if you were to apply for a job today, it’s not out of the ordinary for your potential employers to check your Facebook page.

In some ways, it might be hard to get hired without a Facebook page or a Twitter account or (at very minimum) a LinkedIn account. It’s hard to blame people, then, to want to really control the kind of image they project on these pages. There’s a great deal of social currency (and social power) locked in your Facebook page.

Getting plastic or cosmetic surgery can be a way for people, again, to exercise control over that social currency.

Not For Everybody

Now, this doesn’t mean that plastic surgery is the best idea for everyone with a Facebook page. But when you see articles talking about how Instagram is great for plastic surgeons, hopefully you can take a moment and consider that the relationship is probably a little more complex than it might appear on the surface.

For the most part, people who are interested in plastic surgery have been thinking about getting a procedure done for ages; Facebook might just be the final push, and I’m not convinced that’s necessarily a bad thing.

How Can You Tell When a Celebrity Got Plastic Surgery?

We keep pretty close tabs on the world of plastic surgery news, so it doesn’t surprise us when “rumors” of celebrity plastic surgery start spreading. Usually there will be one or two celebs who post something on their Instagram feed or who hit the red carpet for the first time in a while—and they’re singled out because something looks…different.

This can take a few different forms of course. In many cases, it’s about a breast augmentation or liposuction. In other cases the rumors swirl around Botox. And in a fair number of instances, plastic surgeons are trotted out to speculate on what this line means or that blemish is all about.

There’s a serious cottage industry composed of these articles. And, to a certain extent, they’re pretty harmless. They even give us inspiration on occasion, as well as cause to discuss this procedure or that procedure. But it’s worth talking about this; how can you tell when a celebrity got plastic surgery? When they admit it.

Can You Use Clues?

Certainly a confession isn’t the only way to suss out whether a Megan Fox got her lips augmented or Rihanna got a nose job, right? Well, if you’re talking terms of 100% certainty, it really is. Sure, you can compare images of Megan Fox’s nose pre-Transformers and post-Transformers.

But the problem with celebrities and pictures is that, well, pictures lie. That’s the whole way you get to become a celebrity: by developing an exaggerated notion of beauty (okay, it’s way more complicated, but that’s at least a component for many celebs).

In other words, many celebrities already have non surgical tips and tricks to enhance their beauty:

  • Beauty makeup: You’d be surprised what the application of eye shadow can do. The fact of the matter is that we get so accustomed to celebrities with their makeup on that when they change it up and try a different style, they can look like a different person (or that they had work done).
  • Contouring: This is another makeup trick. Contouring is a way of using makeup to create shadows and highlights. This can actually make your breasts look bigger or your nose look different. And trust me, celebs (or their makeup artists) are highly skilled in this technique.
  • Photoshop: When your brand is beauty, there’s going to be significant pressure to use Photoshop or other photo manipulation tools. Most celebrity images you see have gone through some kind of processing. That’s true for television and films as well. There are plenty of celebrities who you have probably never seen without some kind of touch up having been performed.

When all we have to go on is rumor and innuendo, it really is difficult to look at an image or look at some video of someone’s face and claim that Botox has been performed.

Now, there might be a suspicion that cosmetic surgery has been performed. But there’s a long way between suspicion and certainty. So, in most cases, it’s important to remember that, until the celebrity confirms the rumor, a rumor is all it is.

Who is Botox For?

We usually talk about “plastic” surgery, but there’s certainly room on this blog for non surgical, non invasive procedures. Like Botox! Look, Botox is one of the most popular medical procedures on the planet, with millions of patients every year. It’s a huge procedure.

And lately we’ve been seeing stories about young people looking into Botox. Now, we want to make clear, you should certainly consult with your cosmetic surgeon before deciding how old is old enough to get a Botox injection. After all, there are certain age restrictions to getting Botox and your cosmetic surgeon will be quite familiar with them.

However, it’s worth noting that a bunch of Millennials are flocking towards Botox. At first, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Millennials are young—too young for wrinkles!

Botox Prevents Wrinkles?

That’s true. Millennials are cursed with being young and beautiful (for now—trust me, people, it will catch up with you). But I happen to think Millennials are actually being pretty smart about this.

Here’s why: Botox can actually help prevent wrinkles. Now, the jury (the scientific jury, that is) is still out on just how effectively this happens. But there seems to be a significant amount of evidence that suggests getting Botox injections before wrinkles form will actually stave off the formation of those wrinkles.

That kind of makes sense. Botox is making the muscle relax. So the more relaxed the muscle is, the less likely it is to end up forming that wrinkle (at least, as quickly as it otherwise would).

Is Preventing Wrinkles Worth It?

All of this begs the question: what’s so wrong with wrinkles that they require this much time and effort to eliminate? I mean, do you really need to start planning your wrinkle-fighting strategy while you’re in your late teens? Well, the truth is that wrinkles aren’t going to be all that bad for everyone. Just for some people!

And if you find yourself as one of those people that’s bothered by wrinkles, it can be cost effective to start combatting them sooner. After all, Botox tends to be much less expensive than, for example, a facelift procedure. So you can actually save yourself a significant amount of money by avoiding surgery (in this way, Millennials are being quite smart).

But there’s nothing inherently bad about wrinkles. In fact, many people find wrinkles to be quite attractive. They can distinguish you. They can help you look your age.

The people that find wrinkles most distressing are those that feel aged prematurely. And that can, understandably, be something of a bummer. If you’re only twenty and your face makes you feel thirty, that can be a downer, and it’s hard to fault people who want to address that.

That’s why, in general, plastic surgery tends to be a non-judgy arena. So if you’re thinking about Botox, talk to a plastic surgeon to see if Botox really is the best option for you. You never know when it might be a good time to start!