Selfie’s and Body Image: More Harm than Good?

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When patients come to my clinic to get information on rhinoplasty or nose surgery, it is not uncommon for patients to show me pictures they took with their phone. Many patients will look at this pictures and start to worry that their nose looks too big, therefore leading them to come to my cosmetic surgery clinic. When patients arrive, I often point out that their nose does not appear as big as they suggest, nor does it appear as big as it does in the image on their phone. At this point, I try to point out that the camera on their phone can alter the appearance of their nose and therefore, it’s important to take ‘standardized’ photos.

Recently, a study was published in JAMA – Facial Plastic Surgery (Ward, B, Ward, M, Fried, O’ March 1, 2018) discussing this issue. If a person takes a photograph of themselves with the camera 30 cm from their nose, their nose size increases by 30%. However, if you move to the standard photographic distance of 1.5 m, the nose now appears normal. So, one can imagine, if you are always looking at your nose through a selfie, you will start to think your nose looks 30% bigger than it actually is.

All my rhinoplasty patients have free virtual surgery performed together during their consultation. In order to do this, we take very specific standardized photographs, always taken at the standard portrait distance of 1.5m. All the photographs are taken with settings that ensure the image appears without any distortion. I have considerable experience in photography and have invested in good lenses that allow me to accomplish this. These photos help both the patient and I get a better understanding of what their nose looks like before surgery and what it may look like after surgery.