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Summary: According to the website of some Minneapolis rhinoplasty surgeons, many people elect to undergo plastic surgery because they’re unhappy with the composition of their faces. But how does this change in a society where we’re always snapping quick pictures with our smart phones and posting those pictures to social media? Is there more pressure to look a certain way—to be photogenic? If some recent reports are to be believed, our selfie obsession is leading to a rise on plastic surgery—especially of the face. Procedures such as rhinoplasty, chin implants, or dermal fillers have seen a dramatic rise. Still, it’s difficult to directly connect the two.

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Plastic Surgery in the Smart Phone Age

We live in the age of the smart phone. If you’re old enough to remember when people used lighters at a rock show, you’re old enough to be amazed by just how ubiquitous these devices are in every day life. You can’t go anywhere without your smart phone. And, in many cases, smart phones have replaced home computers. They’re amazing devices that use amazing technology. And, of course, we use them for frivolous tasks, such as taking selfies. Yes, with the age of the smart phone comes the age of the selfie. And that, some theorize, is causing a boom in the plastic surgery field.

According to a report from Reuters, more and more people are opting for certain kinds of facial plastic surgery, such as brow lifts, eye lid lifts, and rhinoplasty. And it’s easy to dismiss this as complete hogwash, but if we stop and think about it a bit, the connection between the two can seem, at least, logical. The first theory is that selfies introduce an added layer of scrutiny to a face that might otherwise escape notice. Here’s what we mean: you might be okay with your face, but you might not like taking pictures of it. In the smart phone era, there’s an increased amount of pressure not only to take pictures of your face, but to put those pictures on the internet for all to see. There’s more pressure, which might lead to additional self-scrutiny and self-conscious feelings.

Your Nose Doesn’t Always Look the Same, Even Without Surgery

The flip side of that is that what you see in a photo—particularly from smart phone—is not what you see in real life. Filmmakers and photographers have taken advantage of this truism for ages, using various lenses and camera angles to help manipulate our view of films and photographs in support of a theme or message. The lenses in a cell phone by their nature alter the view of reality, simply because they are transferring the three-dimensions of life into the two-dimensions of a digital photo. But this doesn’t change the fact that some people don’t like what they see in the photo—so they opt to have surgery so that something which may bother them minimally in real life but greatly in the digital world can be molded to make them happy in both the real world and the digital one. In other words, the digital photo might amplify an aspect of your anatomy that already kind of bugged you (but was mostly ignorable).

It’s an open question, of course, whether this is ample justification for pursuing plastic surgery. Most reputable plastic surgeons go to great lengths to ensure patients do not suffer from any form of body dismorphia—that is, the belief that your body looks distorted when in fact it does not. This is especially true with rhinoplasty, where the results can be quite permanent.

Rhinoplasty Changes Your Nose by Changing Cartilage

Indeed, during most rhinoplasty procedures, cartilage is removed from the nose (or moved around in the nose). For such a small part of the anatomy, it received a lot of attention and is one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures. But that may be because a lot of people simply don’t like their noses—or, perhaps more accurate, don’t consider their noses central to their identity. Changing a nose is seen as only slightly more significant than changing a shirt or a pair of jeans.

Of course, that’s an exaggeration. Many people are attached to their noses (well, we all are, but I meant emotionally). And the thought of changing the nose is abhorrent to them. There is, or at least should be, a happy medium between the two, but there’s no getting around the fact that if you are unhappy with your nose, eventually you will need to make the decision to change in or not. Indeed, most plastic surgeons will tell you that wanting to look a little bit better in selfies probably isn’t enough—on its own—to justify a procedure such as rhinoplasty. In many ways, that’s what makeup and Photoshop (and whole litany of other products and apps) are for.

But there’s also no denying that, as our photos and snaps and chats go viral on their own, there’s mounting pressure to look good at every moment. Or, at the very least, there’s mounting pressure to be seen—and therefore, there’s an increase in that feeling of self-consciousness when maybe you don’t feel like you fit in enough. That feeling is, to most plastic surgeons, a good reason to get a procedure such as rhinoplasty. Sometimes, it’s difficult to tell the difference between the two. In the end, most people who do go through with rhinoplasty find that they love the end result.

Rhinoplasty for the Real You

That said, there’s certainly a professional side to the equation as well. Often times before a big meeting or a job interview, people will perform a basic Google search on who they’ll be meeting with. It’s not malicious, necessarily—people just like to have as much information as possible before going in. So, in a way, some of the pressure here comes from a professional space—from knowing that quiet often, your Facebook photo or your LinkedIn photo will also be your first impression.

Rhinoplasty isn’t necessarily about making your selfie more successful (though it may do that); rather, rhinoplasty is about transforming your face so that you can live free from that feeling of self-consciousness. It’s about the self-esteem and confidence that comes from having the face you don’t mind seeing in a selfie.

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