Selfie culture fuels cosmetic makeovers

Selfie culture fuels cosmetic makeovers

If you don’t look good on social media, you may as well disappear from the face of the earth. The millennials live by this adage, and are hell-bent on doing whatever it takes, to look best. “Young people today know exactly which filter to use on Instagram and the best angle for a selfie,” says Nonita Kalra, Editor, Harper’s Bazaar India.

For centuries, beauty standards have put women under constant pressure to improve their appearance. The selfie and social media culture has raised the bar even higher, and put men under the scanner too, fuelling the desire for transformation, and cosmetic makeovers.

“A decade ago, women were hesitant about walking into a plastic surgeon’s clinic. But these days, both women and men are confident and self-aware. Most have done their research on their problem and the cosmetological solutions for it,” says Dr Sunil Choudhary, Chief of Plastic Surgery, Max Healthcare.

A selfie survey conducted by Dr Choudhary among 1,000 men and women aged 18-35, revealed a preoccupation with good looks. “75% of the women in the survey expressed willingness to undergo cosmetic surgery or other aesthetic procedures to correct their facial features,” says Dr Choudhary.

An online search reveals the latest beauty trends, and there’s no dearth of well-qualified professionals to fulfil dreams of beautiful bodies and glowing complexions. “You don’t need to be a movie star to seek a makeover anymore. Ordinary men and women are strongly motivated to look their best and be looked up to, amongst peers,” says Dr Anil Behl, Director, Plastic Surgery, Fortis Memorial Research Institute (FMRI).

Today, young people seek cosmetic treatments on a routine basis, say dermatologists. “Unlike older clients who are more tentative about opting for procedures, younger folks are more open to experimentation. They want a sharp nose, to improve their facial contours, soften their jaw, take the edge out of a square face, get lip augmentation, or facial sculpting to acquire high cheekbones,” says Dr Ballani, Dermatologist and MD, Ballani Skin Clinic, Delhi.

The growth of plastic surgery and cosmetology solutions has made a variety of seemingly safe body and face modification techniques accessible. Those who fear going under the knife can opt for a range of minimally invasive procedures: Botox injections, fillers, mesotherapy, chemical peels, thread lifts, and laser treatments. “These impart subtle improvements rather than radical changes, which people are more comfortable with,” says Dr Behl.

Another trend is the rise in laser treatments, which target more specific problems, from hair removal to diminishing dark circles around the eyes and acne scars. “These are relatively painless and accomplish pleasing results,” says Dr Choudhary.

Also, non-surgical facelifts have a plethora of takers. “Thread facelifts and other ultrasound technologies such as Thermage, Ulthera and HiFU are popular ways for lifting and tightening facial skin,” says Dr Indu Ballani. Fillers are used to lift the face and also used to shape the nose, chin and mouth.

Light-based therapies such as Intense Pulse Light (IPL) are another addition to the solutions for skin rejuvenation. “Many men these days also come for beard shaping — which involves laser hair removal to discourage growth in some areas. Another popular treatment is skin polishing since guys want glowing skin as much as the ladies,” says Dr Ballani.

For better bodies

Having a beautiful body is another priority. “Young women who have lost weight complain of sagging skin. They come in for tightening of the flesh on the thighs, breasts and arms. ThermiTight is the ideal treatment for this, and also improves the appearance of areas with cellulite such as the thighs,” says Dr Choudhary.

A newer solution for excess fat is CoolSculpting, a medically accepted non-surgical contouring treatment that freezes fat, which is then naturally eliminated from your body. “Fat cells are resistant to diet and exercise and CoolSculpting crystallises these cells and eliminates them from the body,” says Dr Chhabra. Also known as fat freezing, this non-surgical alternative to liposuction has gained popularity among women seeking a bikini body.

Ultimately, however, the democratisation of beauty and cosmetic procedures breeds unrealistic expectations. Expecting body fat to dissipate overnight, through procedures like liposuction and CoolSculpting, may lead to disappointment, cautions Dr Behl. “These are not weight loss procedures. They only reduce inches in certain areas and sculpt the body. They won’t change the number on the weighing scale, and aren’t the treatment for morbid obesity, or a substitute for an unhealthy lifestyle,” he adds.

(The writer is a microbiologist who writes on health, wellness and medicine)