As someone who makes his living with words, it pains me to say this but the truth is inescapable: pictures rule. In an era of smartphones, social media and celebrity-driven culture, photos and videos are more easily created, more readily shared and, in many cases, better suited for getting ideas across to other people.
That’s certainly true in aesthetic medicine, where many potential patients find photos — of themselves, other patients, celebrities — a better way to describe their hopes and goals. That’s hardly breaking news, of course, but recent developments may present new opportunities for doctors this year. Among them:
The relationship between unflattering smartphone photos and people’s interest in cosmetic surgery has been well-documented. These days, however, that connection is being turned on its head thanks to the rising popularity of sites like Instagram, which allow users to apply various filters to their photos. Instead of showing doctors unflattering shots and saying they want to make a change, prospective patients are using filters that make them look thinner or better-complexioned.
“This is a huge trend,” New York-based plastic surgeon Elie Levine, MD, recently told the New York Daily News. “People are bringing in pictures of themselves taken at a favorite angle or filtered, and saying they want to look like that.”
Manipulating digital photos is easy; digital videos, not so much, and with more people shooting and sharing more Vines, GIFs and Instagram videos, it’s likely that more of them will be disappointed with how they appear on screen. “Unlike still photography, video cannot be Photoshopped to reduce a double chin or edit out a bump on a nose,” says Stephen S. Park, MD, FACS, president of AAFPRS. Doctors who are prepared for such scenarios — perhaps by integrating people’s videos into their own imaging systems — improve their odds of turning potential patients into actual ones.
Finally, it’s impossible to talk about selfies without discussing the people who dominate the phenomenon: celebrities. Even though most aesthetic consumers are more interested in achieving a fresher, perhaps younger version of themselves than looking like Beyoncé or Kim Kardashian, the “wish pics” they post on RealSelf offer proof that they still look to celebrities for inspiration.
In fact, in a recent AAFPRS survey, 13% of the organization’s members saw an increase in requests for celebrity procedures in 2014, up from 3% in 2013. And what celebrity assets are currently attracting aesthetic consumers’ interest? According to the survey, the top 5 requested features were:
- Angelina Jolie’s lips and cheekbones
- Beyoncé’s facial structure
- Kim Kardashian’s eyes and jawline
- Brad Pitt’s nose
- Natalie Portman’s nose
Today’s aesthetic trends are tomorrow’s marketing opportunities
Despite their obvious differences, culture, technology and beauty ideals share a common theme: They’re always evolving and, as they do, they continuously influence each other. You don’t have to subscribe to US Weekly or join every new social network but paying attention to trends beyond the medibeauty field can help ensure that your messaging meshes with what aesthetic consumers are hoping to hear.