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Selfie-Inspired Cosmetic Surgery?The Connection Between Social Media and Surgery

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A recent report by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery found that social media is now a driving force behind the desire for cosmetic procedures, says Strax Rejuvenation. People taking “selfies,” or snapshots of themselves taken by themselves, are thought to be scrutinizing their results, leading to the desire to make changes to their appearance. While media outlets reported extensively on the AAFPRS study, not everyone agrees with the conclusions.

“The selfie trend increases demand for facial plastic surgery,” declares the president of the AAFPRS. The organization’s study found that 31 percent of surgeons reported seeing an increase in cosmetic surgery requests due to people wanting to present themselves differently on social media.

Reports were quick to sensationalize the findings, many saying that social media is clearly destroying the self-esteem of individuals across the nation. Not true, says Strax Rejuvenation. One nation’s busiest elective cosmetic surgery clinics, Strax says that social media is not giving people a complex, but it may be encouraging more people to seek procedures they have wanted for a long time.

The more often people take their own pictures, and scrutinize those pictures while deciding on the best one to share, the more they may think about perceived problem areas they have always wanted to change, suggests Strax. But it is not just selfies that may be inspiring new procedures, pictures taken and posted by others play a large role too.

“I see a lot of men and women who are executives or high profile so they are in the public eye. Their photos get taken all the time and they never know where they may end up,” observed AAFPRS member Dr. Rizk in a recent TIME magazine interview, “Between high definition television, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, how you look in photos and video clips has definitely become a driver for all cosmetic procedures from Botox to neck lifts.”

In this sense, notes a Strax Rejuvenation representative, social media is driving the demand for cosmetic procedures. The AAFPRS report found that the top procedures requested in combination with the stated desire to look better online were rhinoplasty and Botox. Some people have dubbed these “selfie surgeries” because they target the face, which is seen in close detail in most self-shot pictures.

But selfies have been around much longer than social media, and even longer than cell phone cameras and computers. A photo former Secretary of State Colin Powell posted on Facebook in March features the former general as a young man, using a camera to take a picture of himself in a mirror. “I was doing selfies 60 years before you Facebook folks,” he proclaims.

Before selfies there were self-portraits. For centuries people of means have commissioned photos and paintings to reflect the selves they want the world to see, not themselves as they strictly are.

Now, Strax points out, people can make those changes to themselves, not just their captured image. Social media may be reflecting the phenomena to us in a new way, but the driving force is as old as humanity.

Social media is, however, driving the demand for cosmetic procedures in a much larger way than simple “selfie-awareness.” The study found that 60% of patients get their information about cosmetic procedures online, a result that jumped significantly from the organization’s findings of a few years ago. 53% look for referrals from friends.

As more people use online research over word of mouth, the social media presence of cosmetic surgery centers is becoming a vital part of business’s health. Clinics must have attractive, modern-looking websites with useful patient information in order to rank well in online searches and to make a good impression. Those who neglect their online presence risk not being found by the vast majority of people looking into elective procedures.

Involvement in social media is another essential part of the business model, explains Strax Rejuvenation. “We feel that social media is very important. I think it’s important to get ahead of trends and one of the best ways to do that is through social media,” said a Strax representative.They use their social media presence to spotlight various procedures and connect with potential clients.

Another way Strax and other cosmetic procedures clinics utilize social media is by encouraging current patients to interact with them online. Individuals happily show off the results of their procedures in social media already, and clinics can capitalize on that by having their own social media account that can be tagged by delighted patients.

“Enabling an outlet for happy patients, and happy customers, is a great way to stir conversation and to get people interested and discussing you and your practice,” says Strax Rejuvenation.“We’ve seen great success in reaching out to our target audience through social channels.”

Social media is changing how people seek out information, and how they present themselves to the world. Savvy businesses can use this change to connect with new customers, stay connected with prior clients, and create a strong online presence, notes Strax Rejuvenation.

Jennifer Davidson contributed to this article.

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