Has social media normalised cosmetic surgery?

Millennials searching for cosmetic procedures are on the increase, with interest about aesthetic treatments up 16% on 2015, according to data collated by RealSelf.

So what has fuelled this rise? In a recent American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery survey, over 40% of surgeons reported that looking better in selfies on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook was an incentive for getting surgery.

Our desire to fit in and better ourselves against a constant stream of perfected, filtered images is clearly having an influence on young people. According to Dr Patel, medical director at Perfect Skin Solutions in Portsmouth, the sharp rise in ‘women aged 18-25 asking for lip fillers [has been faster] than anyone expected.’

Speaking in the Daily Mail, he says the increase ‘is thanks in large part to celebrities such as Kylie Jenner – who is often regarded as the poster girl for lip fillers.’

Kylie Jenner was recently named by Forbes as one of the most powerful celebrities under 30 in the world, and with young girls growing up with a role model that has had plastic surgery at such a young age, are these procedures at risk of becoming ‘the norm’?


With social media such a pervasive aspect of our lives, and with the average Millennial checking their phone more than 150 times a day* it could be argued that this ‘Kardashian culture’ and ‘selfie generation’ is creating a new strain of unattainable goals.

Lauren Yearwood, Owner of YWD Aesthetics, which offers lip fillers and other cosmetic procedures, spoke to me about whether social media impacts her line of work: “I have to say that celebrities like Kylie Jenner have made a lot of girls want lip fillers. As these images are mostly seen via Instagram, then yes absolutely, it could be argued that fillers have become more popular because of that.

“Whilst I’ve not had any clients asking me to imitate certain celebrity looks on them, they often show me images of other girls on Instagram and ask for similar lips.”


I also spoke to one of her clients that runs an eyelash extension and professional makeup business. She told me that she started getting fillers back in 2015, and has had them every 6 months after that without fail. I asked her why: “I was never really concerned about the size of my until lip fillers became popular. I also saw a lot of videos online of the procedure which made it look simple and pain free. The ease of availability and reasonable pricing also made doing this less daunting than I originally imagined.”

She also told me that her clients, as young as 16 have inquired about the procedure. Whilst most clinics won’t accept anyone below the age of 18, it’s worrying that girls that haven’t really lived yet are that concerned with their appearances.

Whilst social media is a great way to share information, build communities and campaign for change, it can lead to unhealthy obsessions, such as comparison and competitiveness. Everyone enjoys receiving ‘likes’ and approval from our peers, and that’s probably multiplied for teenagers.

With a large number of bloggers/social media fiends appealing to the Millennial generation, when they advocate surgery as a means to feeling more confident, it’s of course going to encourage interest. Combine that with the public documentation of lip fillers with videos and images finding their way onto timelines and soon enough, getting your lips done will be no different to getting a haircut.


Whilst procedures are a choice only relevant to the individual, sending out a message to young women that they can manipulate their features is unhealthy.

The beauty, hair and clothing industry plague and already create insecurities, so let’s not add to that and keep aesthetic treatments behind the curtains, please.


*Statistics collated by Michelle Klein, Head of Marketing for North America at Facebook
Images credit to KylieJenner official instagram and NathalieParis youtube



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