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TheStreet Open House

Selfies First, Surgery Second for More of Us

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Scientific data already exist linking heavy social media use, especially taking photos of yourself (called "selfies"), to narcissism.

When social media fans turn to plastic surgery over unflattering selfies, narcissism can't begin to describe the issue.

But that's exactly what's happening, according to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. It says plastic surgeons are seeing more clients walk through their doors wanting work done to "fix" problems linked to unflattering self portraits intended for social media sites.

The organization reports from a survey of its 2,700 members last year that 33% of its surgeons say they are fielding requests from patients who want facial work done to improve their images on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Most of that activity is from younger Americans, who may not be regular customers at plastic surgery clinics but certainly are huge users of social media, and 58% of facial plastic surgeons surveyed saw an upward spike in surgical repairs from Americans under 30.

"Social platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and the iPhone app Selfie.im, which are solely image based, force patients to hold a microscope up to their own image and often look at it with a more self-critical eye than ever before," says Edward Farrior, president of the academy. "These images are often the first impressions young people put out there to prospective friends, romantic interests and employers, and our patients want to put their best face forward."

That explains a 10% rise in nose work (or "rhinoplasty" to plastic surgeons), a 7% increase in hair transplants and a 6% hike in eyelid surgery, Farrior says.

Farrier says we are entering a new era in inflated self-esteem, and with it comes a need to stand out in an ultra-competitive employment market for younger Americans. Couple that with advancements in facial surgery techniques and what used to be an anomaly is a full-blown trend, amplified even further by the narcissistic nature of social media.

"Whether driven by a desire to stay competitive in the workforce, remain attractive to their mate or simply to look as good as they feel, advances in non-invasive anti-aging technologies are making it possible to delay the hands of time while retaining a natural outcome," Farrior says. "As recovery times are reduced and results are more subtle, aesthetic procedures become a more viable maintenance option for young men and women."

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