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Selfie crisis
More people are looking at cosmetic procedures as a result of social media


March 2015

Southeastern Wisconsin is holding up a new mirror to itself and sees room for improvement.

The selfie has given rise to more than a flood of self-portraits on Facebook and Instagram; the ability to show oneís face in an up-close-and-personal manner has increased visits to plastic surgeons to improve those images.

The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery reported recent survey results showing that 13 percent of its 2,700 members cite social media as a cause in the increase in patients seeking facial procedures. The survey noted a 10 percent increase in rhinoplasty, 7 percent increase in hair transplants and 6 percent increase in eyelid surgery from 2012 to 2013.

Local physicians support the notion of selfie remorse. That unhappiness with oneís appearance, they say, is driven well beyond age and gender.

"People notice things more because we have so much instant access to these images," says Dr. Alex Colque of Skiin in Waukesha. "These photos show a lot of animation when smiling, laughing or frowning. You are able to see more."

Colque says patients typically pull out their phone and show him what is often a face that looks angry or tired. He said surgical and nonsurgical procedures will address hanging skin, drooping eyelids and thin lips.

Skiin offers a number of surgical and nonsurgical procedures designed to tighten skin and eliminate wrinkles. Ideally, Colque says, the need and approach should be a patient-physician partnership.

"We need to be on the same page as to what needs to be done," adds Colque. "There is a balance between what is a specific issue and what may be normal facial movements."

That balance isnít always in harmony, says Dr. Bruce Massaro. He specializes in eyelid plastic surgery in the Mayfair Mall Medical Tower. "Sometimes there are strange-looking photos captured at strange moments," Massaro says, "but I think those photos are a distraction. I donít find it very helpful. A red flag goes up when someone wants to show me those photos."

Instead, he says, patients would have a more well-rounded reason to want to make improvements. "In any business, you want your customers to be happy," Massaro says. "I would rather not see those photos but to discuss their overall situation and what will make them happy as a result of going through treatment or procedures."

Dr. Andrew Campbell of Quintessa Medical Spa in Mequon and Sheboygan is also the chair of the Emerging Trends in Technologies Committee of the American Academy of Facial, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Even before the selfie emergence, he noticed social media-based self-awareness started with online chatting and Skyping.

"Thatís because grandparents trying to keep in touch with family would see themselves not in the best light," Campbell says. "The skin around their neck would be accentuated and double chins were noticeable."

In additional to available plastic surgery, Quintessa Medical Spa utilizes cosmetic surgical procedures, including laser treatments and products such as wrinkle fillers.

Assessment of oneís selfies are just one aspect of determining if seeing a specialist is warranted, Campbell says.

"People are aging, but mentally they are not getting any older" he says. "Most people come in and just say ĎI hate the way I look.í Their sense of self does not match their appearance."


This story ran in the March 2015 issue of: