Researchers have found that cell phone selfies can distort facial features, leading to an increase in plastic surgery requests.
Researchers have found that cell phone selfies can distort facial features, leading to an increase in plastic surgery requests. The findings were reported in the journal “Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery.”
The results have revealed an unexpected consequence of social media and the need for plastic surgeons to discuss this phenomenon with their patients.
“If young people use selfies as their only guide, they may come to plastic surgeons to solve problems that don’t exist except in the social media world,” says study leader Bardia Amirlak, MD, an associate professor of plastic surgery at UT Southwestern.
dr. Amirlak explained that patients are increasingly using photos taken with a smartphone camera to discuss their goals with a plastic surgeon. There is a documented link, he added, between the increase in selfie photos and an increase in requests for rhinoplasty — or surgery to change the appearance of the nose — especially in younger patients.
However, because cameras can distort images, especially when taking photos at close range, .
To investigate how selfies can change appearance, Dr. Amirlak and his colleagues worked with 30 volunteers: 23 women and seven men.
The researchers took three photos of each person — one at a distance of 12 inches and 18 inches using a cell phone to simulate selfies taken with a bent or stretched arm, and a third from 1.5 meters away with a DSLR. mostly used in plastic surgery clinics. The three photos were taken in the same seat under standard lighting conditions.
The selfies showed significant distortions. On average, the nose looked 6.4 percent longer on 12-inch selfies and 4.3 percent longer on 18-inch selfies compared to the standard clinical photo.
There was also a 12 percent decrease in chin length on 12-inch selfies, leading to a significant 17 percent increase in the nose-to-chin ratio. Selfies also made the base of the nose appear wider in relation to the width of the face. The participants’ awareness of these differences was reflected by how they rated the photos when compared side by side.
Carrie McAdams, MD, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern and a member of the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute, noted that these distorted images could have a lasting impact on how selfie-takers see themselves.
“Adolescents and young adults are expected to develop a stable sense of self-identity, a neurodevelopmental process associated with making comparisons of themselves with others. Unfortunately, selfies emphasize the physical aspects of themselves when making those comparisons and are in associated with lower self-esteem, lower mood, and greater body dissatisfaction,” she said.
“Many changes in our society, including selfies, social media and isolation from COVID-19, have led to an escalating increase in mental health problems in this age group, including depression, anxiety, addiction and eating disorders,” she added.
Since the photos were taken with one brand of cell phone, Dr. Amirlak suggested that future research should examine how widespread this phenomenon is across different phones.
“As the popularity of selfie photography grows, it is crucial to understand how they distort facial features and how patients use them to communicate,” the study authors concluded.