Hate how you look in a selfie? Relax. It’s not you, it’s your phone — more specifically, how your nose looks on your phone, according to a study published last week in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.
Being captured at such close range makes your schnoz look a whopping 30 percent wider than it really is, explains the study’s lead author, Boris Paskhover, a facial plastics and reconstructive surgeon at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. He says he hopes the research can make clear the effects of camera phone distortion to all the patients who ask for unnecessary nose jobs.
“Phones make people look terrible — not terrible, but worse,” he says. Yet those coming into his office "and taking out their phone and saying, 'Look how bad I look,'" did not seem to realize this. So he’d say to them, “You’re looking at it on your phone, with terrible lighting, taken at a weird angle and up close. It’s the worst conditions and the worst angles and the proximity is the worst.”
Paskhover isn’t the only surgeon reporting patients with selfie image problems. A recent poll by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons (AAFPRS) found that 42 percent of their members reported patients seeking cosmetic procedures for the purpose of improving how they look on social media platforms.
And while Paskhover and other plastic surgeons agree that the nose tends to be the bane of selfie-hating millennials, older patients also walk the line that leads from unhappiness with a Facebook party pic straight to a plastic surgeon’s office. What do they want to discuss when they get there? Their neck and their eyes, surgeons uniformly reported.
Unlike some of the would-be rhinoplasty patients, the problems identified by over-50 patients are a combination of age-related shifts and the fun house mirror effect of a digital screen. “Certainly digital images can distort and exaggerate how bad the changes are,” says Patrick Byrne, director of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at Johns Hopkins and AAFPRS board member.