Selfie craze causes surge in lip surgery in the US
The number of lip implant procedures was up by double-digits in every region across the US last year and it has gained popularity with both men and women
A record number of U.S citizens underwent lip surgery in 2015, according to a leading industry body, which is linking the surge to the rise of social media and the "selfie" photograph.
"We live in the age of the selfie, and because we see images of ourselves almost constantly on social media, we're much more aware of how our lips look," David Song, the president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), said on Monday.
Looking at its 2015 statistics, the society claims the number of lip implant procedures grew by double-digits in every region of the United States in 2015. It gained in popularity with both women and men with a total of 27,449 lip implants, it said. This was an increase of 48 per cent since 2000 and was - on average - one procedure about every 19 minutes last year.
Lip augmentation was the second-fastest growing facial procedure in the United States since 2000, it said, with only dermabrasion procedures - a type of skin-resurfacing - growing faster. The society - which is the largest plastic surgery specialty organization in the world, according to its website - also saw "staggering growth" in lip injections, it said.
"Lips are an easy place for people to start," according to Robert Houser, a plastic surgeon in Westerville, Ohio.
"A patient may not be ready to commit to something as dramatic as a facelift or eyelid surgery, but there are a variety of ways you can change the shape of your lips."
Another industry body, The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, highlights that it costs US$2,074 for lip augmentation on average, and states that the procedure should be considered by people who want "fuller lips" or "feel self-conscious" about how their lips look.
The ASPS commissioned a national survey of around a thousand women and found that the "subtle and sultry lips of Jennifer Lawrence" were the most attractive celebrity lips that women wanted. Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Garner and Angelina Jolie made up the rest of the top four.
The selfie - or self-portrait photograph - has been become ingrained in the national psyche even before the famous picture posted by Ellen DeGeneres at the Oscars in 2014. The word itself was even added to the English dictionary in August, 2013.
In the U.K., a cosmetic dentistry firm has claimed that selfies have also changed the types of smile patients are asking for. The London Smile Clinic said in a press release in February that many are now asking for a new "selfie smile" which "benefits rather than suffers at the hands of the typically center-widening, periphery-narrowing properties of smartphone cameras."
"The problem with a selfie is that the picture is taken quite closely, so the image can be distorted. Teeth often look more protruding than they are in real life and appear 'horse-like'," Tim Bradstock-Smith, clinical director and cosmetic dentist at the clinic, said in the release.
"We have seen a 30 per cent rise over 5 years in the number of patients sending in selfies through the website with concerns about the look of their front teeth, yet when the patients come in person, often the teeth don't look too bad at all."
The clinic dissuades approximately two to three patients each week from treatment and for many others will recommend simple alignment, it said.