Study Shows Post-Surgery Selfies Improve Recovery Experience

Taking selfies helps plastic surgery patients have better recoveries, according to a new study from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.  

The Selfie Study

Published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, the peer-reviewed clinical publication of the ASAPS, the study found that 96.2 percent of participants who took selfies in the first few days following their procedure reported having better recovery experiences than their peers who did not snap pictures of themselves post-op.

The idea for the study developed when one of the authors, a plastic surgeon from Ohio who is also a member of the Department of Plastic Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, noticed a pattern among his patients.

He noted that when contacting patients after their procedure to check on their recovery, they would sometimes send a photograph of themselves, an image popularly known as a selfie. The surgeon then asked 57 of his patients to participate in the study that required them to send in a selfie upon leaving the recovery room and then another image within two to three days after their surgery.  


The selfies allowed the physician to see if the patient was healing properly, or see evidence of a problem that needed his attention. Three participants in the selfie study were found to have complications from their procedures, and the images allowed the surgeon to see that the patient needed follow-up care.  

Selfies also eliminated the need for an overnight hospital stay for patients undergoing procedures that traditionally would have required a follow-up examination the next day. Instead of an overnight stay, patients could snap a selfie of the surgical area from the comfort of their own home and send it to their surgeon for review.

Selfies Found to Increase the Number of Plastic Surgery Procedures

Beyond allowing patients to check in with their physician virtually, selfies are playing another role in advancing plastic surgery by increasing the number of procedures performed.

The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery reports that 40 percent of patients seeking plastic or aesthetic procedures cite wanting to look good for social media as a motivation for surgery.

“Some patients discover a flaw, or a perceived flaw, when they start taking selfies,” Dr. Jack Peterson said.

Seeing a flaw repeatedly can cause feelings of self-consciousness or embarrassment and motivate individuals to seek out the help of a plastic surgeon.

Peterson is one such plastic surgeon. In his Topeka, Kansas, practices, he often encounters patients looking for procedures because they simply want to look better in pictures.

Selfies are Impacting the Demographics of Plastic Surgery Patients 

Selfies are also driving down the age of the average plastic surgery patient, according to AAFPRS. Plastic surgery is no longer only for the middle-aged. The organization reports that a survey of its member surgeons revealed a 64 percent increase in the number of plastic surgery patients under the age of 30 seeking procedures.

Plastic surgery is also no longer just about correcting flaws or issues. It is now seen as a preventative measure against aging.

“Selfies and social media are prompting more millennial patients to seek out procedures, like dermal fillers or Botox, to prevent the signs of aging from ever appearing,” Peterson said.

Selfies are also helping make plastic and cosmetic procedures more mainstream. The younger demographic is more open about their procedures than their older counterparts and tends to share their experience and results on social media, which in turn makes their peers more likely to consider procedures they might want done.

“People see their friends looking great and snapping and sharing selfies, and they want to look great and share their pictures, too,” Peterson said.



Allure. Taking Selfies Can Help Plastic Surgery Patients Heal, Study Finds. Allure. 19 July 2017.

American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Face Of Plastic Surgery Goes Younger Due To Growing Social Media And Reality TV Influence On Millennials. AAFPRS. 14 January 2016.