‘I don’t want to be the odd one out’ — the selfie generation’s secret reasons for cosmetic treatments


Fulvio Urso-Baiarda is a consultant plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgeon. Here, he shares some insight into what drives people’s desires for aesthetic makeovers

Anecdotally, there may be something in the recent news that the popularity of selfies is driving more people to seek cosmetic treatments. I have had patients of mine publish pre- and post-op images of themselves online and, after a few months, have seen prospective patients in my office who eventually mention that I operated on their friend and they were inspired by what they saw in their friend’s photos. There is definitely a 'selfie-crowd’ who like to stay topped up with their Botox and fillers too; it’s not unusual to look through a group selfie and realise they’re all your patients!

Only this week, The Independent reported that a rising number of young people are unhappy with the way they look. The growth of social media sites such as Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook means the selfie generation is spending several hours a day using social media, interacting with and comparing themselves to their peers, often in the pursuit of the perfect profile picture or to increase their number of followers and ‘likes’.

I can imagine there may be some peer pressure — probably subconscious — not to be the odd one out in a group. For instance, when the sun is shining straight at the group in the picture, who would want to be the only person with a creased forehead? Other people have come along explicitly telling me they want Botox prior to an overseas wedding for just that very reason.

Selfies can distort faces with poor quality cameras and lenses but, these days, most phones have fantastic cameras. Selfie-addicts are acutely aware of themselves and know their best side and how to pose to optimise their picture — I recommend chin forwards very slightly more than usual to improve the jaw contour, which is one of the first signs of facial ageing in this young demographic. Although, that only works for the person pressing the shutter, which may be why the same selfie then gets repeated with everyone’s phone.

With apologies for stereotyping, the selfie generation — 20-30somethings — are generally at an age where non-surgical cosmetics are more relevant than surgical intervention, which makes me wonder if, in a decade or two, the same crowd currently inspired by others in their peer group to have Botox and fillers will be moving on to the next stage of surgical consultations…

Anyway, whatever treatments you are considering, I have three key tips:

  • See a reputable, properly qualified practitioner at a recognised treatment centre
  • Get more than one opinion and make sure you feel comfortable with what’s being proposed
  • Ask plenty of questions, and listen out for rational answers!

  • Ask Fulvio a question today >


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