Beta Beat, a high tech blog, recently published an article about social media and plastic surgery. This article did not focus on patient privacy, or limitations for doctors using social media, as I’ve discussed in past articles. The article didn’t focus on HIPAA laws, and it didn’t touch on the question of whether or not Groupon violates ‘fee splitting’ laws. Instead this article focused on the patient, specifically, how social media use has lead to more plastic surgery.

That’s right, the more you jump on Facebook, use Skype, or other forms of social media, the more likely you’ll get plastic surgery. Seems a little ridiculous, right? Well, the growth of social media has lead to the rise in the number of tools you can use to communicate with family and friends, particularly video chat tools. Facebook and Skype are two of the more popular video chat mediums, and unlike talking on the phone with someone, where you only hear their voice, you can see their face with video chat. You can also see your face!

It’s this self examination that’s giving people a fresh perspective of their body and their face. Looking in the mirror may not highlight all your flaws like a video, or photos, can. Dr. Adam Schaffner, a New York plastic surgeon, backs this theory up. “With a good degree of frequency, people will come in and say, ‘I saw myself in the mirror, but I didn’t really notice it until I saw myself on Facebook or on my iPhone or iPad,” Dr. Schaffner told Beta Beat. “When you look in the mirror you’re seeing the mirror image of yourself. But when you see yourself on social media, you’re seeing yourself the way the world sees you.”

The trend became so big that Virginia-based doctor, Dr. Robert Sigal, published a press release about a new procedure he was offering called the “FaceTime Facelift.” The aforementioned facelift, as well as rhinoplasty and chin augmentation, are three of the most popular procedures linked to “social media discovery” by patients. The way in which you hold your camera phone, or the angle in which you sit inrelation to your web cam, seem to be to blame. A crooked nose, saggy neck, or weak chin become that much more noticeable when you’re using an HD camera at arm’s length.

With the growth in HD, it makes sense why actors and newscasters would want to improve their appearance for the camera. They’re in front of it often! But frequent Facebookers are in front of the camera too (just one that no one, besides a friend or family member, is watching). It’s not clear how much influence worked-on celebrities have on the growing group of “Facetime Facelifters.” Unlike prospective patients who bring in a magazine or a photo of a celebrity to show the doctor what they’d like to look like, these patients are taking in social media shots of themselves.

Is our society simply more vain and narcissistic? Does the media pump too many images of anorexic and carved up celebrities? Would the dawn of HD inevitably lead more celebrities, and then average citizens, to plastic surgery? There’s truth in all those questions. One thing is for sure, the demand for plastic surgeons, even in a down economy, is rising, and there’s a direct link to social media use.