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What plastic surgeons want you to know about selfies

Portrait A is taken at 12 inches; portrait B, at 60 inches. (Courtesy Boris Paskhover)

WASHINGTON — Many smartphones have amazing cameras, but research shows that “selfies” can alter how people look, and there’s concern that that could be impacting an entire generation’s self-image.

“If you see yourself in a selfie — it’s distorted,” said Rutgers University facial plastics and reconstructive surgeon Boris Paskhover.

Researchers at Rutgers and Stanford developed a mathematical formula that shows a selfie taken about 12 inches from your face makes the tip of your nose appear an average of 7 percent wider, and the nasal base 30 percent wider, than a photo taken from 5 feet away.

“It’s distorted; don’t judge yourself based on a selfie,” Paskhover said. He’s concerned selfies might be skewing people’s self-image.

According to an American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery poll in 2014, the selfie trend has increased demand for facial plastic surgery. It found that 58 percent of facial plastic surgeons saw an increase in cosmetic surgery or injectables among patients younger than 30.

“I really think we need to be self-aware that our cameras are skewing what we see. It’s not true,” he said. “The younger generation needs to be aware of it — social media is everywhere.”

The selfie-effect study is published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.


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