By now, you’ve probably read at least one news story about the ills of social media. Sure, social media is a wonderful tool that enables all kinds of marvelous things. But, sheesh, does it have a price. When it comes to cosmetic procedures, we have to ask: is social media causing more plastic surgery than might otherwise be happening?

So, is Social Media Causing More Plastic Surgery?

The data are still out on that. It’s difficult to tell, for example, whether social media is causing more plastic surgery or whether it’s encouraging people who would have undergone procedures anyway.

Yes, plastic surgery is more popular than ever before. And I guess I would not be surprised if it turned out that social media had something to do with that. In fact, I think there are some ways in which we can definitely see the effect that social media is having on plastic surgery–maybe not necessarily in the volume of procedures but in some of the decisions that patients are making about those procedures. Is social media causing more plastic surgery? It’s definitely worth taking a look at social media’s influences.

Social Media and Filters

One of the most popular social media features is something called a filter. For those who don’t know or don’t use them (I count myself among them), filters are editing templates you can place over a photo of yourself. So, if you take a selfie for Instagram, you can apply a filter to that photo which will make you look like you have giant eyes and puppy dog ears.

Or, these filters can make your skin look younger and smoother. That’s what a lot of people use them for. And this has two interesting effects on plastic surgery:

  • Increase in facial procedures: Seeing your face (in a selfie) with fewer wrinkles can be something of an inspiration. You might look at your selfie and think: holy cow, I look good without all those wrinkles! This could then inspire you to undergo a cosmetic or plastic surgery procedure designed to mimic the results created by the filter.
  • increase in body procedures: The second possibility is that you see the results in the filter and think: that looks pretty good, I don’t need surgery on my face after all. And in these cases, patients will often elect to undergo various body procedures–procedures for which filters are not helpful–because they figure: why change something you can just use a filter on?

You can see how this creates a kind of push and pull with social media.

Social Media Changing the Way We Look at Ourselves

That said, it’s clear that social media is changing the ways in which we perceive ourselves. There’s ample evidence to suggest that, even on its own, social media can lead to something called body dysmorphia. And, for teenagers especially (though not exclusively), body dysmorphia can be a significant problem.

Essentially, body dysmorphia is a condition in which you see your body as one way–but it’s not reflected by reality. For example, you may see yourself as overweight when, in actuality, you are underweight. Body dysmorphia can completely mess with the way you see yourself. And that can be difficult to combat.

Social media contributes to this in no small part because we now, suddenly, spend so much time looking at ourselves. Instead of seeing yourself in a family photo album once in a while, you see yourself online–all the time. It tends to amplify your flaws. And then there’s the fact that many modern social activities require selfie-related activities as the price of admission.

Social Media Causing Changes

To be sure, the fields of plastic and cosmetic surgery are not the only places that social media is making a splash. In many ways, social media has begun to change the very fabric of society (okay, I’m being a little dramatic, but you get the idea). Is social media causing more plastic surgery while it’s doing that?

Maybe. It’s hard to tell–especially because the motivations of patients tend to be rather complex anyway. But we definitely have to take some time to take plastic and cosmetic surgery into account. It never hurts to take a little bit of time to consider how social media is playing into our expectations and motivations.

That’s especially true because it’s not like social media is going anywhere anytime soon. Social media is here to stay–and stay it will.


About the Author: Dan Voltz is a content marketer who has been writing about plastic and cosmetic surgery for over four years.

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