Your winged eyeliner is perfection. It’s a stellar hair day. Your outfit is flawless. Time to snag that selfie before you head out the door.
Does that one selfie attempt turn into at least a dozen or more shots, and a wasted 15 minutes, trying to find an angle that doesn’t make your nose look huge? Well, a new study recently published by the medical journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery reports that it might not be you — it’s your selfie that’s making your nose look bigger. Up to 30 percent bigger in fact.
Researchers found that photos taken with a camera 12 inches away — typical selfie distance — resulted in a distorted view of reality. A drastic distortion, really. Selfies increase nasal size in men by 30 percent and women by 29 percent.
The problem? This “fun-house mirror” effect is causing people to seek out plastic surgery for their noses.
“The most common body part that manifests itself with body dysmorphic disorder at my practice is the nose,” says Dr. Jeffrey B. Wise, a Wayne, New Jersey, facial plastic surgeon. “Red flags are patients who have had multiple procedures and never seem satisfied with the result. Although these cases are extremely rare, it is often difficult to identify these patients, and we need to take the time to get to know patients both physically and emotionally.
“If a patient really doesn’t need a procedure, I would honestly tell them that I don’t think I can make them happy,” Wise continues. “Sometimes it helps to revisit and set up a follow-up appointment in a few months to see if their feelings have changed.”
The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery has studied this “selfie-awareness” trend, too. In a recent survey, the organization found that 55 percent of facial plastic surgeons reported seeing patients who cited wanting to look better in selfies in 2017, up 13 percent over 2016.
But what do plastic surgeons do when they see a person who really wouldn’t benefit from a rhinoplasty?
“Contradictory as it sounds, one of the most important things a plastic surgeon can do is to not perform surgery,” says Dr. Barry M. Weintraub, a New York plastic surgeon. “It is my job as a surgeon to discern when a patient has a distorted self-image, and to gently help that person readjust his or her perception.”
“I definitely think that patients are overly critical of themselves due to the popularity of selfies and constant picture taking,” he continues. “In my own practice, I turn down many surgeries a day — more surgeons should learn to say no. It is very gratifying that many patients, when I refuse surgery, are genuinely happy and appreciative of an unbiased professional opinion.”
The ideal distance for the most flattering photos? About five feet away. As many a model knows, the best photo is the one you let your friend take for you.
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