For many, social media has become a platform for putting every aspect of their lives out in the public domain. So it is no wonder that the content that we are sharing is fuelling our vanity and self esteem, or lack thereof. Whilst social media has the power to keep us connected with our friends and our family, there is an unfortunate side to social media that can lead to much less desirable emotions.

According to a study posted in TIME magazine, researchers discovered a recurring pattern, that participants often felt feelings of envy, inadequacy and even loneliness from scanning through a friends’ social media profile. And this research didn’t stand alone in its discovery. A number of governing bodies, including AAFPRS and BAAPS, have also reported that a growing number of patients have requested cosmetic surgery as a direct result of how they wanted to appear to other people on social media.

Whilst many people out there don’t actively desire to look like another person, such as a celebrity or public figure, what these images are doing, is forcing people to evaluate themselves and scrutinise their perceived flaws. Years ago, when a photograph was taken, it would sit in a photo album, which you would then only look at every once in awhile. The rise of social media means that we are looking at these pictures every day and so are the people we are connected with. Therefore, those flaws become harder to ignore and when they are on your timeline, directly below a picture of a Kardashian, your self-esteem can take a blow. As humans, we can not help but compare ourselves to other people, and this is amplified on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and in particular, Instagram.

Year on year, there has been a significant rise in the number of cosmetic surgery procedures performed, in the UK and USA as well as Australia. Across the board, the most popular procedures were breast augmentations, Blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) and face and neck lifts. However, the biggest change in these statistics was in the UK and Australia, where there has been a movement towards tweaking rather than tucking. This trend has seen a significant rise in the number of non-surgical procedures; including Botox, Fillers and Thread Lifts.

This shift in attitude towards social media, also has a number of benefits that can not be overlooked. Social media platforms are giving patients a first hand insight into the companies and more specifically the surgeons that they are trusting to carry out their procedure. Because social media is such an open platform, it can provide invaluable information to a potential patient whist they are carrying out their research. It allows them access to a library of uncensored reviews and testimonials from patients who have had the same procedures, allowing them to choose more wisely before going under the knife.

Patients who make a conscious effort to educate themselves on their surgeon, as well as the likely outcome of the procedure, generally have a better experience. As well as the number increase for treatments, there has also been an similar rise for cosmetic surgery claims with many unqualified surgeons botching procedures, highlighting the importance for thorough research. It will not only allow individuals to be sure that they choose a surgeon who is trusted, but it also helps them to manage their expectations regarding what can be achieved.

Veronica Pembleton

Veronica Pembleton is a freelance writer and research journalist, who specialises in a number of core areas, including health and well being, law and business. Through studying journalism at university, Veronica was introduced to a number of contacts in different industries, where she was able to build her portfolio of both clients and feature articles.

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