Rise In Cosmetic Surgery Possibly Linked To Social Media

Is the digital era driving a heightened sense of vanity in a world where nearly everyone can quickly upload pictures and other images to a Facebook or Google+ page? Are people opting for cosmetic surgery to put forth a more attractive countenance when using services such as Skype or FaceTime?

New research from Mindshare would suggest so. "Vanity is strong word,” said Mark Potts, managing director, Consumer Insights at Mindshare Worldwide. But there’s no question that society is generally “more conscious of physical appearance,’’ at a time when photo sharing is becoming as commonplace as texting.

“Today’s culture is much more visualized, with the consequence that people are much more aware of how they look,” said Potts who oversaw a just-released study from the agency about the digital impact on societal notions of beauty.

The study, part of the Mindshare’s Culture Vulture series of consumer insights reports, notes that chin implant procedures in the U.S. last year soared 71%. Many of those procedures, the report asserts, were done by people who wanted to look better while chatting on FaceTime or Skype, or who just wanted to exorcize a double chin for a shot on Facebook.

The report cites the so-called “'FaceTime Facelift,” a term coined by a Washington, D.C.-based cosmetic surgeon, who noticed patients increasingly asking to have their faces “corrected" to look better in video chat calls. In response, the surgeon developed a liposuction surgery technique that does away with the double chins and turkey jowls accentuated by the camera’s angle.

Potts said that many of those procedures were requested by middle-aged patients, for whom sagging faces are a bigger issue than among millennials. But younger folks also go under the knife to correct perceived flaws. Potts noted separate reports that have detailed younger people resorting to cosmetic surgery to stop bullying from peers -- actions that are often facilitated by social media.

The Mindshare report, Culture Vulture Beauty, explores how the increased visualization wrought by digital has affected societies around the world, and provides a number of takeaways for marketers. “There are a lot of ways to express brands more visually,” said Potts -- and ways to drive consumer interest in brands by utilizing relatively new media behaviors such as digital photo sharing. The full report can be found at http://www.mindshareworld.com/s/CultureVulture.

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