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Baystate Surgeon Discusses Study on Social Media’s Impact on Self-Image

(WGGB) — Social media are changing the way we communicate and get information, but a new study argues that they’re also changing the way we view ourselves.

The American Academy of Facial and Reconstructive Surgery found that social media and the prevalence of so-called “selfies,” or self-taken pictures that are now widely disseminated on the internet, have sparked a large boost in requests for plastic surgery.

Baystate Plastic Surgeon Dr. Benjamin Schalet joined 40 in the Morning on Tuesday, and said it’s not just the “selfies,” but the images all over social media that are sparking a new level of concern.

“Absolutely, I think that people are more aware of their appearance,” Dr. Schalet said, “and they have many more opportunities for that appearance to be viewed throughout the day and not just face-to-face interaction.”

The AAFRS study found that last year, when these trends picked up, there was a 10 percent increase in nose reconstructive surgery from the previous year, 7 percent increase in the number of hair transplants, and 6 percent increase in eyelid lifts. Dr. Schalet says people are now forced to be under visual scrutiny all day long, when their pictures are ever-present on social media.

“Sometimes it allows people to focus on some of the details they may have missed when they’re just getting ready in the morning,” Dr. Schalet added.

Dr. Schalet says he and many other plastic surgeons make a concerted effort to remind many patients that some procedures may not be necessary. He says a big part of his job is to minimize insecurities among his patients and help relieve any outside pressures.

But not all plastic surgery is for show. Dr. Schalet does reconstructive surgery for cancer patients at Baystate. He helps many breast and skin cancer patients get back to normal after surgery. Doctors also can try to help patients who have been in accidents reconstruct certain features.


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