We’ve all seen social media’s impact on viral dances, bread baking recipes, and flash-in-the-pan skincare and makeup trends. Even aesthetic treatments and procedures are not exempt from the virality of Tik Tok and Instagram. A quick scroll floods your feed with jaw-dropping before-and-after images and videos highlighting every cosmetic procedure under the sun, from non-invasive fillers to dramatic body makeovers.
Showcasing plastic surgery on social media has brought normalcy to what was previously perceived as unattainable, says Dr. Sean Paul. “The number of influencers and celebrities getting plastic surgery and treatments has led to a massive influx of inquiries from patients asking if these treatments are right for them. Yet, it remains up to the physician to show authenticity and the best care for patients.”
Here, we break down the biggest plastic surgery trends made famous by social media.
1. Lip Lifts
Social media has put the lip lift in the spotlight, making it a trendy way to improve the lips permanently. Rather than resorting to hyaluronic acid filler injections to volumize the lips, a lip lift decreases the distance between the upper lip and the base of the nose. “I see posts about lip lifts and other skin-tightening procedures done above the lip to improve the show of the ‘body’ of the lip,” Dr. Paul adds.
2. Emsculpt NEO
Non-invasive fat melting devices come and go, but one that’s seeing a lot of social media hype is Emsculpt NEO. The new technology relies on a mix of radiofrequency, which shrinks fat cells, and HIFEM (high-intensity focused electromagnetic energy) to build muscle. After several treatments, a more toned, lifted butt and better-defined abs are apparent. Seeing these effortless results plastered across social media feeds has patients of all ages wanting the treatment.
3. Thread Lifts
Thread lifts are at the forefront of social media. Yet, as Dr. Paul explains, a substantial number of medical spa providers and non-physician providers try to produce surgical-like results with the treatment. Unfortunately, risks can come with a thread lift, no matter how good the before-and-after images look on social media. If thread lifts are not done appropriately, issues like dimpling, rippling, inflammation, and even skin problems, can occur. “I see a ton of complications from people who have thread lifts, and 99% of the time, it’s due to the provider not having the experience and promising unrealistic results. Unfortunately, most of these patients need corrective procedures or surgery to improve the complication,” Dr. Paul adds.
4. Buccal Fat Removal
Once Chrissy Tegan revealed she had buccal fat removal, the model instantly put this facial-fat removal procedure, which can transform a round, cherub-like face into an elongated, heart-shaped one, on the map. As a result, Dr. Paul is seeing a massive uptick of teenagers to 30-year-old patients asking for the surgery. “The desire for a snatched jawline or less of a chubby cheek appearance is important for many patients due to the pressures of social media, Zoom meetings, and selfies.” But buccal fat removal isn’t for everyone—alternatives include jawline filler to add structure or Botox in the masseter muscles. “Buccal fat removal is a nice procedure in the right patient. However, I always recommend a consultation and facial analysis before surgery,” he adds.
5. Brazilian Butt Lifts (BBLs)
Just because Khloe and Kim Kardashian dialed down the size of their buttocks doesn’t mean the BBL is riding off into the sunset. Many women still opt for the procedure, which gained mega-stardom due to Tik Tok videos and photos of women showing off augmented yet round backsides. “About five years ago, the BBL trend was high, but I think this is going away a bit, especially the overdone BBLs.”
Social media’s show and tell aspect has more patients sharing their nose job journeys. Patients who give a real-life perspective on the ins and outs of rhinoplasty make the procedure palatable for others considering it.
“I cannot even count the number of rhinoplasty experience videos and before and after pictures that I see on social media daily,” Dr. Paul says. “Social media is fine-tuning the Gen Z and millennial demographic–particularly teenagers—to want to improve their noses after seeing amazing results from correcting a large hump on a nose,” he adds. “There is value in sharing the rhinoplasty journey and procedure, but transparency is important. Many influencers receive discounted treatments, so there could be a conflict between what they’re showing versus the full scope of work done. It’s not a simple transaction, and you still need a full consultation with a plastic surgeon before proceeding with the procedure.”
7. Blepharoplasty and Non-Surgical Eye Treatments
Dr. Paul says social media is leading to an increase in eyelid procedures, especially non-surgical ones that improve the area. “People want to know what they can do to improve bags and dark circles. Skilled surgeons can address fat prolapse under the eyes, loose skin, and tear troughs to give patients a full result.” Unfortunately, not one treatment always works for every patient. Usually, a combination of surgical and non-surgical procedures is necessary to achieve the desired result.
8. Prejuvenation treatments
Social media influences millennials to explore plastic surgery and aesthetic treatments, which results in younger patients taking a proactive approach to addressing early signs of aging. The thought is that smaller ‘tweakments,’ like fillers, Botox, and even laser treatments, can delay the need for more major procedures. But the younger generation takes more of a beautification approach to things in addition to correcting the very first signs of aging—they want to look younger and better.
9. RF microneedling
RF microneedling is one of the most effective ways to transform the skin without the downtime of more invasive procedures. The one-two punch treatment shot to social media stardom a few years back with the Vivace treatment. Since then, the category, as a whole, has exploded with close to a dozen different devices available, making it one of the most desirable aesthetic treatments. “Every day, patients come in asking for procedures they’ve seen on social media,” Dr. Paul says, adding that most ask for Morpheus8.
Written by Elise Minton Tabin