Selfies Inspire Plastic Surgery In Kansas City, Across United States

Jul 21, 2015

When facial plastic surgeon Dr. David Kriet sits down to do a consultation with a patient in his Kansas City office, it isn’t unusual for his patient to show him a selfie.

Five years ago, the selfie would have been out of place, even foreign, in a doctor's office.

“[Then] it was common to bring a printed photograph of a starlet and say, ‘I like their nose,’ but now [the patients] bring in their cellphones,” Kriet says.  

What Kriet has noticed in his Kansas City patients reflects a national trend observed by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

 

The academy reported increases ranging from 6 to 10 percent in rhinoplasty, hair transplant, and eyelid reduction surgery from 2012 to 2013.

The surgeons attribute part of the increase to people wanting to look better in their selfies.

One in three of academy facial plastic surgeons reported that their patients are more aware of their appearances because of their social media use.

They also found that people 30 years old and younger are increasingly seeking out these types of surgeries. 

 

When Oxford Dictionaries named selfie the word of the year in 2013, KCUR staffers commemorated the nod with selfies of their own.
Credit Briana O'HIggins+ Staff / KCUR

Kansas City's Kriet is one of them. 

The surgeon was one of the three co-chairs of the academy's Advances in Rhinoplasty course that brought in roughly 600 physicians from nearly 60 countries hosted in Chicago in the spring. At the event, doctors, therapists, fashion and beauty experts held a panel to discuss the relation of selfies and surgeries.

“(We) all had seen big changes in how people see themselves,” Kriet says.

This trend of plastic surgery prompted by image-heavy social media, like Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook, has some implications, however.

“Selfies on the camera are completely different,” Kriet says, “(but) we see this image of ourselves so much more than in the mirror. That image that you see with the selfie ... gives us this different image that isn't reality.”

Physically erasing what you don't like

University of Missouri-Kansas City psychology professor Jennifer Lundgren, whose research specializes in body image issues, says the statistics weren't surprising.

“The pressure to portray yourself in a favorable light is huge now, whether it be in pictures or stories you’re posting,” Lundgren says.

She warns that physically erasing what you don’t like about yourself in photographs can be harmful.

“This is not the right solution. People who are relatively young are making a life transformative decision," she says. "They might regret it, trends might change ... We are changing our bodies to meet societal images.”

Plastic surgery can be beneficial for improving a patient’s self-esteem, but Kriet warns,“On the contrast, someone who has had multiple surgeries and is pointing out a defect that can barely be detected, that’s where you have to stop and say, ’is this really the answer?’”

In that case, he recommends patients seek counseling over surgery. Patients can walk the fine line between wanting to fix a self-perceived physical flaw and running risk of a psychological disorder.

“Make sure you’re doing this for yourself because the odds are your friends aren’t going to notice if you don’t tell them,” Kriet advises his patients. “We’re always our worst critics.”

Kriet and Lundgren were both guests on Up To Date Tuesday. Hear their discussion with host Steve Kraske.