Expert's Opinion

Is Social Media Driving Plastic Surgery?

April 16, 2013

Insight from certified plastic surgeon.

By Dr. James C. Marotta

The advent of social media has had a profound impact on the practice of cosmetic surgery and has led to more ways for doctors and patients to connect than ever.In my own practice, we have Facebook pages for the surgical division, the medispa, and hair restoration practice, a Twitter account, pages on Google+, LinkedIn, and links to a number of ratings and review sites.

We receive regular communications from patients requesting appointments, commenting on our posts, posting reviews, or buying skin care products.This entire process has been automated with patients able to reach us simply with the click of their mouse.We use social media as on outreach tool to keep our patients abreast of new procedures, new practice developments like the opening of our new state of the art cosmetic surgery center, and upcoming seminars and promotions.

In addition, social media has directly created an increase in patient awareness of their appearance.Using a webcam or posting self portraits on facebook or pinterest, has caused patients to see themselves more often than ever and in a different, sometimes harsher light.I recently performed a complete facial rejuvenation surgery including an upper and lower blepharoplasty, endoscopic forehead/midface/temple lift, lower facelift and laser on a patient who couldn’t stand seeing her “sagging” face staring down at the webcam.

Twoweeks after her procedure she was so thrilled she sent me her webcam before and after contrasting her drooping facial features before with her new youthful appearance.This patient clearly needed and wanted the surgery for the right reasons, and her unhappiness with her appearance was just highlighted by her social media interactions.

However, I have also noted a rise in the number of people who I feel seek treatment through an unhealthy or overly critical eye toward their online appearance.Typically twentysomethings, these patients obsess over subtle changes they desire in their appearance with defects that they only notice in certain lights or in certain views or angles of pictures.These patients are usually seeking some form of facial reshaping like rhinoplasty, chin implantation, jawline reduction, cheek augmentation or reduction, or lip augmentation or reduction.They may request modifications to look more like a celebrity.

As a physician it is my job to discern the individuals who may have valid, easily correctable concerns from those who may have a more serious psychiatric condition like body dysmorphic disorder and refer them for counseling.

In addition to surgery, patients are requesting non-invasive ways to bolster their online presence.Injectable therapies like Botox, fillers like Juvederm or Restylane,light based technologies like laser, Ulthera and Intense Pulsed light, chemical peels and microdermabrasion all offer no downtime options to improve your appearance on the web.Simple things like getting enough sleep, hydrating, moisturizing, avoiding salt, and staying away from the computer before the morning facial puffiness has gone down, can make a big difference in the way you look online.
About the Expert:
Dr. James Marotta is a dual Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon who specializes in facial plastic surgery with particular expertise and interest in minimally invasive (endoscopic) facial plastic surgery and facial rejuvenation/anti-aging (surgical and non-surgical). He attended Columbia University and graduated as president of the medical honor society at SUNY Stony Brook School of Medicine. He trained at Yale University in head and neck surgery and was consistently recognized as the top head and neck surgeon in the program. He achieved board certification upon completion of his residency. Dr. Marotta then completed additional subspecialty training as a fellow in facial cosmetic and reconstructive surgery at one of the leading facial plastic fellowships in the country.