Cosmetic Surgery: the Cure for Unflattering Profile Photos?

profile photo facetime social media

Photo by miggslives via flickr

Remember the old saying, a picture is worth a thousand words?

These days, a good photo may be worth a lot more than that, especially when it’s posted as part of an online profile on a social media site. From making new friends to landing new jobs, people are discovering that how they look online can have a big impact on how others see them.

For aesthetic professionals, it’s a trend worth following as those who don’t like what they see are increasingly likely to turn to cosmetic surgery in an effort to improve their image.

That’s among the takeaways from a recent member survey by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. According to the report, 31% of doctors saw an increase in requests for plastic surgery as a result of people being more self-aware about their looks in social media.

The leading social-media-inspired requests were for rhinoplasty (22%), Botox (19%) and facelifts (17%). It’s safe to say that much of that interest was sparked by the simple fact that the first thing most people encounter on social sites is a profile photo.

Social media sites center around photos, said Matthew Schulman, M.D., in a story in SHAPE Magazine. I have seen a significant increase in plastic surgery requests specifically because of how people perceive how they appear online.

Such concerns are unlikely to go away anytime soon as more people sign on to social media — Facebook had nearly 700 million active users in December; Google+, more than 340 million — and millions of smartphone users choose to document the endless parade of moments that make up their daily lives with photos and videos.

And let’s not forget LinkedIn, and the increasingly important role it plays for job seekers in what continues to be one of the toughest job markets in decades:

Honing an appealing online persona is increasingly seen as a pre-requisite for gainful employment in many fields, writes Jessica Roy on BetaBeat.com. And increasingly, it’s not clear where our online representations stop and our own selves begin. Your online persona is part of your personal brand.

And, fair or not, people are realizing that their profile photos — shot themselves with their iPhone or Android device at arm’s length — may not be doing their “brand” any favors. Some may simply opt to edit or otherwise manipulate their images but it’s safe to say that others will reach out to cosmetic surgeons in the hopes that they can fix what Photoshop can’t.

Doctor Takeaway

Pictures don’t lie but they can lead to negative impressions

Between high-def TVs, Skype sessions and iPads with Retinal Displays, more and more people are seeing themselves and others in increasingly fine detail, which can, in turn, put their “problem areas” front and center. Doctors can help by encouraging patients to share their phone-based photos during consults or make their own devices available for in-office shoots.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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