THE BLOG

The Rise of the Selfie

06/01/2015 16:34 GMT | Updated 08/03/2015 09:59 GMT

An inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on body image found pressure to look good has pushed up cosmetic surgery rates by nearly 20% since 2008.

People are not only viewing retouched images in the media, but these days, most cameras in smartphones have built-in filters and effects to enhance photographs. 2014 was the year of the selfie and this has certainly been true for my practice, as I have seen a rise in patients wanting cosmetic procedures and using the selfie to demonstrate what they don't like about their features. Social media means we are now taking more photos of ourselves than ever. Research shows that more than 17 million selfies are uploaded to social media every week, with Brits being the most prolific selfie snappers.

Because of this trend, I am seeing a shift in patients coming to me at a younger age than previously, concerned about fine lines and wrinkles. Also, more patients who dislike their nose are beginning to notice this on selfies, and this is likely to be the stimulus to consider cosmetic rhinoplasty surgery. I am particularly seeing a rise in patients coming for rhinoplasty surgery as a result of this phenomenon. This is probably because close up photographs or certain angles can enhance the appearance of facial and nasal disproportions. In the past, most of my female facial surgery patients were in their sixties and seventies, but now, women are visiting my practice in their forties and fifties. With selfies continually being uploaded to social media, patients are now much more aware of their facial imperfections.

And I have not just seen a rise in mature women wanting facelifts. Young patients regularly approach me in their early twenties requesting non-surgical procedures such as Botox and fillers. Unlike many surgeons though, I do not perform these procedures on patients in their early twenties. There is a misconception that Botox is a preventative for wrinkles. This is not true, and both surgical and non-surgical treatments for lines and wrinkles should only be considered when the problems arises and not before. Usually, such problems begin to occur in the late 30 and 40-year-old age group and this is when such treatments should ideally be considered.

Although I do not perform these procedures on such young women, unfortunately, due to the lack of regulation in the industry, there are many practitioners who will agree to give Botox, unnecessarily, to these women. This is why it is important to always ensure you see a reputable consultant who is a member of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) and have any treatment, surgical or non-surgical, in a hospital environment. A reputable surgeon will give honest advice on the best procedure option for you, if any.

Choosing to undergo non-surgical procedures at a young age has risks. BAAPS accredited surgeons are unlikely to treat a patient if they feel there will be no benefit. Giving Botox to a patient who doesn't need it may result in an unnecessary reliance on such treatments with a tendancy to undergo further procedures which may be unnecessary. However, often by regulated surgeons refusing to treat these patients, it can unfortunately push them to go to one of the many unregulated high street clinics, where treatment may not be questioned. Don't fall into this trap, make a smart choice about who you consult.