Selfie generation helping fuel rise in cosmetic surgery

Psychologists warn distorted view of appearances could impact on mental health

Generation 'seflie' could be helping boost Dubai's plastic surgery trade with close up photos distorting facial features.

Selfies could be fueling Dubai’s booming plastic surgery industry as close up photos give a distorted impression of the size of your nose, new research has found.

Experts in Dubai have warned of the mental health implications of increasing pressures on appearance, with selfies offering a distorted view of our physical traits.

Researchers at Rutger University in New Jersey, America said evidence from a mathematical model supports the theory that close up photos distort facial dimensions.

University experts found selfies taken from 12 inches away increased perception of nose size by 30 per cent in men, and 29 per cent in women when compared with photographs taken from the standard portrait distance of five feet away.

The results led doctors involved in the research to claim the increasing popularity of selfies could be helping increase demand for nose jobs.

Speaking at a plastic surgery conference in Dubai, Dr Bander Al Aithan, a cosmetic surgeon at the Bella Roma Medical and Aesthetic Surgery Centre, said rising demand for plastic surgery is being helped by social media and easy access to photos.

“Body dysmorphic syndrome is a psychological condition that affects the patient’s perception of how their body looks,” he said.

“We acknowledge this condition and recognize it within the industry, and doctors should not be operating on patients if this is recognized. They should be referred to a psychologist instead.

“Most of these patients will go to multiple plastic surgeons to try and get surgery done.”


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Non-surgical nose jobs are one area that is becoming more popular with clients, Dr Al Aithan said, with Botox and filler used instead of surgery.

Patients can see changes within a few days, rather than the six months it takes for rhinoplasty to take full effect.

Data for the US study was collected from a random sample of ethnically and racially diverse subjects.

The perceived change in nose breadth in men and women was tested from different selfie distances, using the average length and width of noses and heads of the subjects.

Study authors backed further research to determine whether patients who take frequent selfies are less satisfied with their clinical outcomes, and if this distortion informs future medical decisions.

They also said additional models are necessary to explore the effect at different vertical and horizontal camera angles.

The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery said 64 per cent of its facial plastic surgeon members have seen an increase in cosmetic surgery or injectable treatment in patients under 30 due to social media and selfies.

More than half of surgeons said their patients were turning to cosmetic surgery to remain competitive in the workplace, whilst 82 per cent of people going under the knife told doctors they had been inspired to do so by celebrities.

Psychologists in Dubai have reported more men seeking treatment for body image issues who have a distorted perception of the way they look.

“Men have never had to look a certain way, but that has changed over the past five to ten years,” said Reem Shaheen, an Egyptian counselling psychologist at the Clear Minds Center in Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai.

“Advertising and the media has changed that in the way women have faced body image pressure historically.

“It is a relatively new thing for men to have to deal with and is providing its own kind of pressure to conform.

“Social media is also driving this industry.

“It is making it very difficult for young people and children to grow up in this environment with this kind of security and judgement from their peers. It creates a lot of bullying and misconceptions.

“That lowers self-esteem and can lead to risky sexual behaviour and depression as they grow up.”