What's wrong with your selfies?

Selfies don’t look right all the time. Depending on the angle and the lighting, you can look very different from photograph to photograph. That’s because of the mechanisms by which photographs function: lenses. As a result, selfies can actually be a pretty poor way to plan your plastic surgery. What works better, in most cases, is to actually talk to a plastic surgeon. That said, selfies can give you a starting place. Just don’t get too set in your opinions, as selfies don’t look right or accurate on many occasions.

People are always posting their selfies and looking at their selfies and talking about their selfies, but there’s a truth about selfies that most people miss: Selfies don’t look right. This runs against what we’re taught about photographs most of our lives, of course. We think of photos as a realistic piece of evidence, captured forever in time.

Why Your Selfies Don’t Look Right

And, they are. But they also distort things. That’s because every photo is taken via a camera, and the only way a camera can “see” is through a lens. Lenses tend to distort things. That means that every time you take a photo, you’re distorting the image.

In most cases, that distortion is not enough to matter. But it’s worth talking about when it comes to selfies because these special little photos are often associated with activities such as plastic surgery. Selfies don’t look right, so when you use them (especially combined with filters) for your basis of plastic surgery, you have to take certain considerations into account. Because the other reality is that even though they distort your features, selfies still motivate many people to eventually get plastic surgery.

Lenses and Lighting Can Distort Your Appearance

The way that light behaves is physically bizarre (it’s both a wave and not a wave). I’m not going to spend a lot of time on a physics lesson here, but what I will say is this: you have to jump through a few hoops to get light through a lens and onto the sensor of your camera. Lenses tend to be curved, in one way or another–and that’s even true of the relatively simple lenses you find in cell phone cameras.

As a result, images can sometimes become slightly distorted. It’s not enough that you’d really notice it most of the time. But certain features can get flattened out. Other features can become more rounded. Much will depend on the specific lens you’re using.

In other words, you’re taking a three dimensional object (your face), and translating it through a two-dimensional device. It’s never going to be a direct translation, which means that using a selfie as the basis for a plastic surgery procedure needs to be done carefully and in conjunction with other methods.

Those methods might include:

  • 3D Scanning
  • Video images (which also require lenses but can give a more comprehensive image)
  • Looking in the mirror (I know it sounds silly)
  • In-person consultation with a plastic surgeon

Don’t Forget About Lighting

It’s also worth noting that lighting can make a dramatic difference in the way you look in an image. Lighting that’s done correctly can make you look more slender, more youthful and more vibrant. Unflattering lighting can cause you to look like you have all kinds of issues you actually don’t. If you’re bringing a selfie in to your plastic surgery consultation, definitely talk about the lighting.

Filters Can Distort Things Even More

Lighting isn’t the only way that you can alter what kind of photo your camera takes. From Snapchat to Photoshop, there are a multitude of post production processes available. Most people are going to be familiar with these as “filters,” as popularized by social media apps such as Snapchat.

Modern filters such as this are actually quite powerful, capable of wiping away lines and wrinkles in rather precise fashions. Filters give people a sense of what they might look like if they had fewer imperfections or if their nose was a bit straighter. As such, these filters tend to be a common starting place for patients who want to discuss plastic surgery of some kind.

But these filters are often imperfect and impossible to replicate exactly. That’s why a conversation with your plastic surgeon before you get your heart set on any outcomes is always a must.

How to Compensate for Distortion

Whether you’re using selfies as a guide or the filters that come with those selfies, it’s important to remember that there’s some distance between that media and reality. Distortion is a real thing, and it can interfere with your ability to see reality. It might not make a huge difference when you’re deciding whether to get plastic surgery.

But it could be important when it comes to deciding what type of surgery to get–or how much you really need. Maybe you think you need a facelift thanks to selfies, but in reality you could just use a little bit of Botox.

Selfies don’t look right all the time–they aren’t always 100% accurate. The best way to get a complete picture of what plastic surgery can and cannot do for you is to talk to a surgeon. Luckily, there’s no shortage of those.

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