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“Selfies” and Cosemtic Facial Surgery




I guess Narcissus was the first example of a “selfie”Narcissus
and over the past year I have seen a lot of pretty silly correlations between people taking “selfies” (self-photographs with cell phones) and cosmetic facial surgery.  I even heard of one surgeon who supposedly has a special facelift just for that.  Even for someone like myself who makes a living doing cosmetic surgery that sounds extraordinarily frivolous.  Cosmetic surgery is vanity surgery and there is nothing wrong with someone wanting to look better or younger for the right reasons, but do selifes really drive a rise in these procedures?

The answers is probably, however this phenom is not new to younger generations.  I have been doing facial surgery for 30 years and long before the digital age, people would comment about how a picture underscored their need for surgery.  All of us have seen great pictures of ourselves (probably our facebook pic) and bad pictures of ourselves (probably destroyed).  Appearance in pictures has always been a reason for someone to consider cosmetic surgery and it has remained common for my three decades to hear someone say “I did not know my neck looked so bad” or chin, or eyelids, etc.

One interesting thing is that most of us only see ourselves from the front and hence, it is fun to sit and observe people watching themselves in clothing store triple mirrors.  They rarely see that person, i.e. their other two views.  When we see a picture of ourselves in a group, my bet would be that the average person looks at themselves first then moves on.  We are vain creatures, and that is healthy to a certain extent.  Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a condition where people are obsessed with minor flaws or even no flaws at all.  They think that have some terrible attribute that the rest of the world sneers at and ridicules.  It is a very sad disorder as I have seen a lot of really nice and talented people with BDD and it can be crippling.  I discuss cosmetic facial surgery with people all over the this country and the world on a daily basis and it is astounding how many people in their early 20’s are wanting to have cosmetic procedures done.  If you look at some of the cosmetic surgery bulletin boards you will see a common question from people in their early 20’s posting a picture and asking “what do I need?”

Back to selfies.  There are numerous things that can make us look old and tired when doing selfies. Examples include lighting, camera angle and distance.  If you hold your phone far enough away, level with you face in bright daylight, you will look a lot better. You will look worse by holding the phone from below and looking down which causes a double chin on almost anyone.  Overhead or low lighting makes eyelid bags and wrinkles look worse as shadowing enhances detail. Finally, distance is important because with many fixed lens devices, when the lens is clolse to the subject, a fisheye effect occurs which can make a normal nose look like a clown nose.  So, if you want to look better in a selfie, use good light, hold your head up and keep the camera back as far as you can.

We tend to see our own faults magnified from our own view.  You belly may not protrude out as much as it looks to you when you look down.  Same for breasts and same for all anatomy seen daily by the owner.  Actually, I think that sometimes viewing a video of ourselves taken by someone else would make us feel better.  I think that this would be a good therapy for someone who has an eating disorder and thinks they are fat.  If they saw dynamic video of themselves from multiple views, it may improve their body image.  Same thing with someone who thinks everyone is staring at their chin, etc.

When I was young they used to talk about “wrist radios” where you could talk to someone and see them.  Now we have Skype, Facetime, Selfies, Webcams and a multitude of similar devices on which we can view our own image.  Further study of this would be a great PhD thesis.


Joe Niamtu, III DMD

Cosmetic Facial Surgery

Richmond, Virginia

Office Address

Joe Niamtu III, DMD
11319 Polo Place
Midlothian, VA 23113

Office Hours

Monday - Friday
8:00am - 5:00pm

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