These days, snapping a few selfies to share with your doctor while discussing plastic surgery goals is common. Patients also take selfies after their procedure, and how those selfies look can impact their post-surgical satisfaction.
However, a small study has found quantifiable evidence that selfies distort your facial features compared to standard clinical photographs taken in a surgeon’s office.1
The reason why? Selfies are snapped at a short camera-to-subject distance, creating a distorting effect where features closer to the camera, such as the nose, appear larger than those further away.
Selfies Get Up Close and Personal
In the study, 30 participants sat for three photographs under standard lighting conditions. Two were taken with a cellphone camera—one at 12 inches away (an estimate of a selfie taken with the elbow bent at a 90-degree angle) and one at 18 inches away (an estimate of a selfie taken at arm’s length).
The final photo was taken with a single-lens reflex camera five feet away, which is the type of camera and distance that plastic surgery clinics use when taking patient photos.
Researchers found that the photos taken with a cellphone camera created significant distortions. Compared to the standard clinical photograph, the nose appeared 6.4% longer on 12-inch selfies and 4.3% longer on 18-inch selfies. The 12-inch selfie showed a 12% decrease in chin length, which created a 17% increase in the ratio of nose-to-chin length. In addition, the width of the face increased 10.3% in clinical photography compared to 12-inch selfies and increased 7.1% in clinical photography compared to 18-inch selfies.
Participants confirmed the distorting effect. When comparing their 12-inch selfies to their clinical photographs, many noted their “face looks more proportional in the clinical photograph.”
Selfies are—and will remain—popular with patients, but they’re just one tool for you to reference in strategizing your unique facial plastic solution. Let us help guide you on your journey with the most state-of-the-art diagnostic tools available.
1 Pressler, M., et al. (2022). Size and perception of facial features with selfies photographs, and their implication in rhinoplasty and facial plastic surgery. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. https://journals.lww.com/plasreconsurg/Fulltext/2022/04000/Size_and_Perception_of_Facial_Features_with_Selfie.15.aspx