SA doctors dismiss ‘selfie’ plastic surgery trend

Barbara Streisand changing nose
Barbara Streisand changing nose

Women in the US are flocking to get plastic surgeons to make them look like their filtered Instagram selfies – but South African doctors are turning up their noses at the cutting-edge trend.

Local cosmetic surgeons say they prefer tried-and-tested methods of helping patients achieve the look they want.

In the US, an increasing number of women are taking selfies at flattering angles and using filters to iron out wrinkles, hide blemishes and disguise sagging jowls.

They then ask their plastic surgeons to make the polished image a reality.

Sandton plastic surgeon Dr Chetan Patel dismissed the trend as a “fad”.

“This is exactly the thing that we warn and counsel patients about. Surgery is not an exact art where every whim and wish can be catered for with absolute precision,” he said.

Patel, who prefers to take his own before and after pictures to show patients what the surgery has achieved, said altered images rendered surgeons prone to legal problems.

“This is done with caution and risk. If the patient doesn’t see exactly what was shown to them pre-operatively, they are likely to be unhappy and this could lead to unnecessary [recrimination] or even litigation,” Patel warned.

Cape Town plastic surgeon Dr Dirk Lazarus said he had had inquiries about the Instagram selfie fad from patients, but he preferred to use special software tailored for doctors.

“Manipulated images are routine and have been used for years as a guide, but with disclaimers,” he said.

“As far as patients manipulating their own images, this is happening more frequently as apps become available to allow this.

“I am always keen to see these manipulations. Sometimes what a patient wants or believes she wants is not achievable or simply will not look good. Camera filters do not achieve the same outcome as a surgeon’s knife or needle,” Lazarus said.

As a fun exercise to demonstrate image-manipulating software, Lazarus performed “digital nose jobs” on one of the world’s most famous schnozzles, that of singing legend Barbra Streisand.

The Photoshop images on the left show what she (as nature intended in the top picture) might look like after two different rhinoplasties and a chin alteration.

“I don’t do nose jobs and I prefer the before picture as it maintains the character of the face,” said Lazarus.

Another Cape Town plastic surgeon, Dr Paul Skoll, said he used his “limited Photoshop knowledge” to plan some procedures. “This helps, but can lead to unrealistic expectations.”

Jade Fairbrother, South Africa’s first Playboy Playmate of the Year, who has gone under the knife twice in six years, believes using an edited selfie “is far better and more accurate than pictures of other people or celebrities”.

However, said Fairbrother, in the actual consultation for her plastic surgeries, the “process was based on intellectual conversation, explanations and analysis of my body type, as opposed to desires based on edited imagery”.


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