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Woman taking a selfie with her phone

Think You Need a Nose Job? Blame the Selfie, Say Researchers.

27 March

They say the camera adds ten pounds, but it does not do your nose any favors either. New research has discovered selfies, those close-up self-portraits everyone loves, distort the shape of the nose, prompting some to seek plastic surgery to improve their appearance.

Assistant Professor Boris Paskhover, of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School's Department of Otolaryngology, noticed many of his plastic surgery patients would bring selfies to their rhinoplasty consultation. The patients would use those images to point out their large nose, requesting surgery to balance nose size to the rest of their face. As these patients continued to examine the flaws in their own selfies, Paskhover decided he needed a good way to explain why selfies do not make a good judge of nose size.

The Selfie Problem

Selfies have become common in recent years, posted to social media for a constant reminder of how we look. Android phone users took more than 93 billion selfies per day in 2014, and all these pictures mean all someone's perceived flaws are in their face and on their mind constantly. The problem is, these close-up photos are not flattering. The distortion with that short distance tends to make the nose look larger, which may prompt some to seek unnecessary plastic surgery.

Quantifying the Selfie Distortion

Although a skilled plastic surgeon may see the difference between a selfie-captured nose and a regular-distance portrait, the average patient may not. Paskhover decided to team up with Ohad Fried, research fellow at Stanford University's Department of Computer Science, to quantify the distortion and spread the word about this selfie effect.

The two scientists used average head and facial feature measurements from participants who represented diverse ethnicities to create their mathematical model. The model showed the face as a set of parallel planes perpendicular to the main camera axis, then calculated changes in the ratio of nose breadth to width between cheekbones at different camera distances. This helped calculate the magnitude of distortion switching from one camera distance to another.

The Selfie Study Results

Using their measurements and calculations, the researchers compared the size of the nose at a distance of five feet, a standard portrait distance with realistic facial proportions, compared to a distance of twelve inches, an average selfie distance. They determined a selfie makes the nasal tip look seven percent wider and the nasal base about thirty percent wider than usual. In a selfie, the numbers show, the nose looks way out of proportion compared to reality. This unrealistic nose image then prompts patients to see flaws where there are none, seeking rhinoplasty when their nose actually looks perfectly fine.

The Selfie Surgery Seekers

According to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, about half their members report patients seeking their services to improve their look in selfies. Many seek minimally-invasive procedures such as Botox or dermal filler injections, with these procedures continuing to gain popularity in 2017, but 218,924 patients in the U.S. underwent rhinoplasty in 2017. Although this is down slightly from the year before, with 223,018 opting for a nose job in 2016, it is still a significant number. Some patients will benefit from rhinoplasty, but not all.

According to Paskhover, the way selfies drive self-image is a public health issue. As young adults constantly take selfies and post them to social media, they think that is how they actually look, but Paskhover likens it to looking in a "portable funhouse mirror" 24-7. These photos may be having a negative effect on the young person's emotions when they do not even reflect reality.

Paskhover sought to show his patients and others like them that selfies do not show how they really look. Instead of opting for plastic surgery, may patients could benefit from taking a step back, taking a look in the mirror, and seeing themselves how others see them.

For those patients who can benefit from a nose job, there are non-surgical solutions to help in some cases. Some plastic surgeons use hyaluronic acid dermal fillers such as Juvederm Voluma to adjust the nose's shape, smoothing a bump or raising the tip, although these injections cannot help reduce nose size, selfie-induced or otherwise. To learn more about Juvederm Voluma, visit today.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and must not be considered as medical advice. We, do not agree, endorse, or approve opinions expressed by authors of our medical community. Articles are not reviewed for accuracy by You should always consult your doctor when seeking medical advice.

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