ShareThis Page

Nip, tuck, click: Plastic surgery demand increases in selfie era

| Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, 4:27 p.m.

NEW YORK — Dental hygienist Jennifer Reynolds was always self-conscious about her looks, never took selfies and felt uncomfortable being tagged in photographs posted on social media.

The 34-year-old from Costa Rica who lives in New York opted for plastic surgery on her nose and now feels ready for prime time on social media.

“I definitely feel more comfortable right now with my looks,” Reynolds explained. “If I need to take a selfie, without a doubt, I would have no problem.”

Reynolds is one of a growing number of people who have turned to plastic surgeons to enhance their image. Others are hiring specialized make-up artists in what may be an emerging selfie economy.

Selfies, or self-portraits, rose in popularity along with smartphones and social media sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Instagram as a mostly young adult crowd posted images of themselves. Now everyone from Hollywood stars to prime ministers takes selfies.

Comedian Ellen DeGeneres posted a selfie with Hollywood A-listers at the Academy Awards on Twitter that became the most retweeted of all time. When Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt's snapped a selfie with President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron at Nelson Mandela's memorial service, it caused a media sensation.

For mere mortals, going under the scalpel to produce a better selfie may not seem so extreme.

Plastic surgeons in United States have experienced a surge in demand for procedures ranging from eye-lid lifts to rhinoplasty, popularly known as a nose job, from patients seeking to improve their image in selfies and on social media.

A poll by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery of 2,700 of its members showed that 1 in 3 had an increase in requests for procedures because of patients being more aware of their image in social media. They noted a 10 percent rise in rhinoplasty in 2013 over 2012, a 7 percent jump in hair transplants and 6 percent increase in eyelid surgery.

“There has been a 25 percent increase over the past year and a half to two years. That is very significant,” Dr. Sam Rizk, a plastic surgeon, said about his Manhattan practice.

“They come in with their iPhones and show me pictures,” Rizk, 47, added. “Selfies are just getting to be so crazy.”

Rizk, who specializes in rhinoplasty, said not everyone who requests surgery needs it, because a selfie produces a distorted image that does not represent how a person really looks.

“We all will have something wrong with us on a selfie image,” he explained. “I refuse a significant proportion of patients with selfies, because I believe it is not a real image of what they actually look like in person.”

Some patients get upset when Rizk tells them surgery is not necessary, and he knows they will simply go to another surgeon.

“Too many selfies indicate a self obsession and a certain level of insecurity that most teenagers have. It just makes it worse,” he said. “Now they can see themselves in 100 images a day on Facebook and Instagram.”

New York make-up artist Ramy Gafni, who has worked with clients on selfies and online dating profile photos, suggests using clean makeup, well-defined eyebrows and a bit color on the lips to produce the best selfies.

“You want to enhance your features, perfect your features, but not necessarily change your features into something they are not,” he said.

Dan Ackerman, senior editor with CNET, which tests and reviews products, said the Internet is full of tips and advice on selfies.

“There are apps that apply filters to your face that smooth out wrinkles ... or put artificial makeup.... There is a sub economy of tools and advice that have built up around this,” he added.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.