Even though social media has become a place for people of all ages to post “selfies” in cute outfits or showing new haircuts, there are often mixed feelings on the part of the public when they post a photo. One of the most popular captions shared on social media platforms such as Instagram is “Felt cute, might delete later.” There is often a good deal of anxiety that comes with posting photos and the anxiety can often stem from the comments that are shared when photos are posted on social media sites. The combination of social media and the general insecurities all people feel during adolescence can create a good deal of psychological stress. The rise of social media has also resulted in the rise of cyberbullies who hold others to often unrealistic beauty standards or they simply make comments about the appearance of a person and the comments might be intimidating or threatening. Let’s take a look at the connection between plastic surgery and cyberbullies.
In a 2017 study that was published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, it was reported that “adolescent bullying may be a key driver of interest in cosmetic surgery.” In a survey of around 2800 participants between the ages of eleven and sixteen, who had experienced some form of bullying, 11% of the participants showed a desire to have plastic surgery. This percentage of participants showed this desire was especially true among young girls.
TikTok is a social media platform where users share videos to educate, entertain and give insights into their daily lives. In a recent interview with the New York Post, one TikTok poster shared how negative comments about her appearance heightened insecurities she had about her double chin. The increase in the insecurity about her appearance eventually led her to have surgery to address the issue. She said, “Obviously, commentary on the Internet is super f*ucking brutal. And everyone would be like, ‘Stop shopping and get your double chin removed.’”
TikTok has also shown the ability to create cosmetic surgery trends such as those related to chin liposuction and noninvasive rhinoplasty. In fact, a search of the hashtag #chinlipo will bring results that include 60-million views related to the topic. This shows one of the benefits of social media as the sharing of first-hand knowledge and experience when it comes to cosmetic surgery gives the public an “inside look” they would not have been able to gain in the past. In turn, this makes the public much more educated and knowledgeable when it comes time to make a final decision about having plastic surgery.
There is also a drawback to having a procedure that was inspired by viewing others online. The requested procedure might be a hot trend at the time of the visit to the doctor but that doesn’t mean the trend will still be popular several months after the treatment (we’re looking at you, bullhorn lip lift). In addition, the desired treatment likely does not lend itself to a generic procedure. The results that look great on one person might not have the same positive impact on another person because of the difference in body type and healing ability. Doctors need to make sure and understand the reasons behind the requested treatment to determine whether the patient has a deep desire for the changes provided by the procedure or if the reason is driven by social media trends and what is considered to be the “hot treatment” at the moment.
Patients need to know that the images they see in “selfies” on social media are actually altered (even when it is done on purpose with a filter). Photos on cameras depend on the camera itself, the lighting in the photo, and the perspective from which the photo was taken by the person. It is extremely important to realize that the photo is not a “real life representation” of the subject of the photo.
Many plastic surgery procedures, such as rhinoplasty or a Brazilian butt lift (BBL) provide results that are either permanent or they last for decades. The changes made to the body can alter the way patients feel about their appearance (good or bad) so the surgeon needs to take the time to discuss the benefits and risks of the desired treatment to make sure the person is both physically and mentally ready for the changes that will occur once the results are visible.
It should also be stressed that the process of having cosmetic surgery does not heal the mental or emotional wounds that can result from cyberbullying. If the impact of cyberbullying is left untreated by a medical doctor or a therapist, the person who wants to have plastic surgery can experience depression, stress, and anxiety. The process of ensuring the person is mentally ready for the changes they will see can benefit them on a physical and emotional basis.