Social media and plastic surgery

Social media activity may be driving the uptick in plastic surgery requests, according to a new poll from the American Academy of Facial and Reconstructive Surgery.

The annual survey polled 752 of the academy’s board-certified facial plastic surgeons on the trends in reconstructive and cosmetic surgery.

This year, the poll revealed surgeons are seeing a 31 percent increase in plastic surgery requests as a result of how people wanted to present themselves on social media, according to a Time Healthland article.

“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. 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,” Dr. Sam Rizk, director of Manhattan Facial Plastic Surgery, told Time.

The survey also showed that growth in cosmetic plastic surgery outpaces demand for reconstructive procedures. Cosmetic surgery accounted for 73 percent of all plastic surgery operations in 2012, according to the article.

“Whether you think it is harmful or not, it is a trend and I don’t think we will see it slowing down anytime soon,” Rizk told Time. “There is the potential in some individuals with low self esteem and psychological issues to fixate on certain features, such as a prominent nose or a weak chin or a heavy neck. When the concern about your appearance or specific features starts to border on obsession, that can be a red flag.”

While social media is influencing patients’ decisions to get surgery, it’s not serving as a resource for identifying and vetting surgeons and procedures.

In 2012, only 7 percent of patients used social media to research doctors and surgical options – a drop from 35 percent in 2011, according to the article.

Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at or 360-735-4546.

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