Social media seems to be driving an increase in plastic surgery, according to an annual survey of 752 members of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery conducted in 2012.
The AAFPRS survey found a 31% increase over the previous year in the number of requests motivated by prospective patients’ concerns about how they appear on social media. Interestingly, the same period saw a steep decline in the number of prospective patients who relied on social media as a source of information about plastic surgery, from 35% in 2011 to just 7% in 2012; 57% got their information about plastic surgery from other online sources, and 33% relied on referrals.
According to the AAFPRS survey, the top three types of plastic surgery procedures requested in 2012 were rhinoplasty (nose surgery), blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), and facelifts. The number of men seeking plastic surgery continues to rise, with a 27% increase in requests by male prospective patients for Botox from 2011-2012. Among women there is a growing trend of what I will term “family bonding” procedures, with a 16% increase in mother-daughter procedures and a 12% increase in sister-sister procedures.
Of course, social media is far from the only thing driving demand for plastic surgery, which is, after all, ultimately about looking good face-to-face. Here the AAFPRS survey noted a sizeable number of plastic surgery requests prompted by big events, including weddings and (wait for it) high school reunions. Meanwhile other media certainly play a role in creating demand: back in July 2007, an article which appeared in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery found that reality TV shows about plastic surgery directly influence first-time patients seeking a surgical procedure.