This Is What Plastic Surgery Looks Like Today

Social media has brought the idea of plastic surgery into the spotlight in a way that was inconceivable just 10 years ago. Way back when, if a famous celebrity got a little bit of work done (or a lot, no shade), they’d hole up in a hotel room under an alias through their recovery, only to emerge looking refreshed a few weeks later. But thanks to stars and their fans constantly being plugged into Snapchat and Instagram, there’s a visual archive that didn’t exist before. We know when someone has gotten their lips plumped, because we can scroll back through their Instagram history and see the evolution.

The overexposure we’re all acutely aware of is affecting the plastic surgery field in a surprising way — namely, how people actually go about adjusting things. Dara Liotta, MD, a plastic surgeon on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, claims that she’s seen an uptick in internet personalities as part of her clientele — specifically Instagrammers and YouTubers. What makes these men and women different is timing: Since so much of their business has to do with their faces, they can’t afford to take the traditional few weeks off for recovery. “In the past, you’d get a surgical rhinoplasty (a.k.a. nose job) that involved a general anaesthesia, two weeks of black-and-blue, and up to a year to see your full results,” Dr. Liotta says. “That’s not realistic for people who need to be in front of a camera.”

Instead, these folk are flocking to her for non-surgical procedures that require zero downtime — things like cheek fillers and lip injections. “What’s interesting is that these are not anti-aging procedures, as has been the norm in plastic surgery,” Dr. Liotta says. “The top three [procedures] for men and women that I see are non-surgical rhinoplasty, cheek injections, and chin injections.” And the rate of these procedures has spiked. Three years ago, Dr. Liotta performed one non-surgical rhinoplasty a month. Now, she performs five in a week.

So how exactly are non-surgical treatments different than traditional plastic surgery? “Non-surgical procedures are aimed at producing a similar result [as surgical intervention] by using Botox and fillers,” Dr. Liotta explains. Which sounds fantastic, but how, exactly, do Botox and fillers smooth out a bump on the nose or make a cheekbone pop? Dr. Liotta uses the example of a rhinoplasty. Say an individual has a pretty obvious lump on their nose they’re not ecstatic about. Dr. Liotta would, in that case, fill the skin on the top and bottom of the lump to smooth it out and then use a little Botox to lift the tip of the nose. “We try to give them dramatic results that approximate surgery,” she explains.

THREE YEARS AGO, DR. LIOTTA PERFORMED ONE NON-SURGICAL RHINOPLASTY A MONTH. NOW, SHE PERFORMS FIVE A WEEK.

While the results are temporary, they’re still significant — depending on how fast your body metabolises the fillers, the results can last anywhere from one to three years, according to Dr. Liotta. And there’s the added benefit of reversal — something that isn’t available with a traditional rhinoplasty. Since Dr. Liotta uses a hyaluronic acid filler, it can be easily dissolved with another injection if you aren’t thrilled with your results, with little-to-no downtime. “People come in in the morning and then go out on a date later that night,” Dr. Liotta says.

They’re also getting these temporary procedures done for special events. Lisa Jane Parsons, a beauty YouTuber, had her lips filled this past May. “It had to do with my upcoming wedding,” she explained. “I’d been looking into lip fillers for a while, and I knew it was sort of temporary. So if it wound up going wrong, it wouldn’t be a permanent thing.” She opted for Juvederm, which utilises hyaluronic acid to plump the lips, and then filmed a video explaining the procedure once it was done.