(Don’t) Like My Photo: Social Media Spurring Plastic Surgery

PHOTO: Triana Lavey, before and after plastic surgery to fix her "weak chin." Lavey, a 37-year-old television producer in Los Angeles, got the surgery because she didn't like how she looked on Skype and Facebook.Triana Lavey, before and after plastic surgery to fix her “weak chin.” Lavey, a 37-year-old television producer in Los Angeles, got the surgery because she didn’t like how she looked on Skype and Facebook. (Courtesy Dr. Richard Ellenbogen)


July 16, 2012

Triana Lavey was about to undergo a radical transformation. And she was doing it for a radical reason.

She wanted to look better online.

With the help of Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Ellenbogen, she was changing her chin, her nose and the shape of her face.

Lavey is a 37-year-old television producer in Los   Angeles. For work and socially, she spends a lot of time on Skype, Facebook and other sites. She said she didn’t like the face staring back at her from her computer screen.

“I have been self-conscious about my chin, and it’s all stemming from these Facebook photos,” she told ABC News correspondent Cecilia Vega.

The more she saw herself online, the more she said she wanted to change. “I think that social media has really changed so much about how we look at ourselves and judge ourselves,” Lavey said. “Ten years ago, I don’t think I even noticed that I had a weak chin.”

Lavey tried to change the camera angle. She even untagged herself in photos she didn’t like. But none of it was enough.

“Here is a weak-chin photo that I didn’t untag myself in … because I was working out really hard that summer, and I am pleased with everything else in the photo,” Lavey said. “But it’s my darn chin that bugs the living daylights out of me in this photo. … You keep looking and looking, and now it’s the first thing I look for in a photo. It all started with Facebook.”

Surgery was the only way to fix it. Simply cutting down her social media use wasn’t an option. “That can’t happen. … Where my career is headed and the industry is headed, I have to be on social media,” Lavey said.

Lavey is not alone. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, chin augmentations have increased 71 percent in the last year. Doctors confirm that more and more patients are asking for the Facebook facelift — plastic surgery for the iPhone generation.

At Lavey’s consultation, Ellenbogen showed her what her new online-ready face would look like.

Ellenbogen explained that augmenting the chin should be balanced by adjustments to the rest of the face with procedures like fat grafting — adding a bit of fat to the face — and rhinoplasty (a nose job).

Given that social media are supposed to make life easier, did Lavey feel she was doing something extreme?

“Plastic surgery should be a last-ditch effort,” she said. “It should be after you work out, after you diet.”

“I am blessed; I can afford it,” she said. “I feel really lucky. I have worked my butt off, and I feel like if I can afford it, if it’s something I can do to feel good and feel confident, why not? It’s 2012.”

The surgery Lavey got costs between $12,000 and $15,000, Ellenbogen said. Lavey is a friend, so she got a discount.

Is our eager embrace of social media creating a culture of Internet narcissism? And can’t we just move the webcam to improve the angle from which it shoots us?

“It definitely is, and most people should do that,” Ellenbogen said, “but there are people who have tried to do that, to make themselves more attractive, and they just need a little bit of a boost.”

More than a month after her surgery, Lavey was ready to show her 692 Facebook friends her new face.

She said she felt more confident.

“It extends all the way from Skyping with people [to] having people tag me in a Facebook photo,” she said. “If the camera comes out at a party … I am fine with it. I am excited to see them. Before, I used to want to hold my chin, but now I want to show my face.”

Conversations in the treatment room

“Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That or a kick-ass red lipstick.”
Gwyneth Paltrow
My lip injection.
Today is my day off from work but I’m strolling into the golden towers that house Cosmedica, Montreal’s beauty mecca, for a different reason. Scurrying through the elegant lobby, I do a mental check of my appearance; I like to keep it professionally casual in case I bump into patients… Today it’s a little challenging as I’m toting my two year old while balancing on my heels and sucking on a Freezee. At 31 years old, I’m the one sucking on the Freezee and not sharing. At the clinic, between us girls, frozen goodies are our preferred method of minimizing bruising post lip injection, and a darn good excuse to have Haagen-Dazs.


After a flurry of greetings and hugs, we gather around in Isabelle’s injection room to watch the transformation take place. With a wink and few expert injections with her Restylane syringe, Isabelle plumped my lips just the way I wanted. Her special “hydrated lips” technique only requires an economical half a syringe of product, enough to give that sleep-swollen lips look you wish would last all day, minus the puffy eyes. As our other nurse Val explains: “hyaluronic acid (Restylane) occurs naturally in the human body, it is the main component in our skin and is also used by the body to lubricate and prevent injury to our joints. Because it already exists in our tissues, there is very little risk of any allergic reactions.”

There is already anesthetic mixed into the Restylane so the procedure was very bearable. I’d do ten of these over a Brazilian bikini wax! Then again, who needs Brazilian bikini wax when Cosmedica offers virtually painless laser hair removal by LightSheer Duet. That’s a topic for another day…


I would like to thank Aurelie who giddily exclaimed: “ouch, I know exactly how you feel right now!” Thanks. Without Val bouncing around my two year old, this whole thing would not be possible. Thank you to Dr. Benchetrit, of course, for taking good care of us. Special thanks to my beloved colleague Isabelle, Montreal’s top injector nurse who really knows her way around a needle and helps me wear my red lipstick even more proudly!


Nadine Harvey
Medical esthetician at Cosmedica

Aurelie’s Breast Surgery Journey!



So it’s been a while now since my operation (8 days) and I’ll update you about how it’s been. 

Day 1 – Operation day – As I said, it went well, a little towards the end but due to anesthesia. Dr.B was great and really reassured me throughout the process.  All went well without any vomiting. Hospital and staff was fantastic. Big thanks to my nurse Josée.  Any transitions (to lie down or get up) is very stiff (muscle pain) and causes a lot of pressure.

Day 2 – Sore, to be expected.  Tolerable pain still feeling the anesthesia. Very itchy where the incisions are. Transitions displacement still difficult.  Can’t wait for shower.  I don’t know why (perhaps meds or anesthesia makes you sweat) but my hair is very dirty.

Day 3 – Reaction to Dilaudid (Pain medication). Vomited, very tired, stayed in bed all day, not eating but lots of Gatorade. Still itchy & pressure during transitions

Day 4 – Stomach-wise better, both breasts sore (pressure pain), no pain were incisions were done. Itchy!

Day 5 – Stomach much better (must have gotten rid of anesthesia in my system).  Bra and tape causing much itchiness. Still transition issues

Day 6- Saw Dr.Benchetrit post op to take some of the bandages off. He was very pleased with the results. I had no bruising or leaking.  The incisions look great. My nipples are in the right place. I still have Steri strips that will eventually fall off on their own.  Now I can take a shower but without touching breasts! Yay!!

Day 7 – Tired du to lack of sleep since I’m always sleeping half sitting up and still sore.  Tired o being tired and sore!!

Day 8 – So far. Back at work.  More pain on left breast than right.  Since it’s hot very itchy. Saw Dr.B again and is very pleased with result.  Incision very nice.  Swelling is going down a bit.  Asked if I was please with size and I am.  I chose 370 cc’s which a full C size.


Here are some suggestions and comments about having this surgery:

You’ll get sick of lying down on your back.  Have lots to watch on tv or dvd’s.  Calculate 4 days to doing nothing at home with a mastopexie (lift) with implants.


You won’t be sleeping well so buy yourself specialty foam pillows if you can to make sure you are comfortable and allows you to be partially sitting while sleeping


At the en of all of this, having this surgery is priceless, honestly. I would do it again in a heartbeat. 


Make sure that you choose a size that you’re happy with so you don’t regret your choice. The implant trial with the nurse is invaluable.


I’m already seeing the results in my clothes and I’m loving it.



New Feature: “Conversations in the treatment room”

“Conversations in the treatment room: week 1” Prospective patients always want to know which treatments we do on ourselves and which ones we like. In a casual conversation a lot can be said about what we do and what we are passionate about without sounding pushy about our services, and gives insight on who we are as a team. This information is delivered in fun, lay-person, terms, like a girlfriend chatting about the latest thing you “just gotta try”.

 So Valerie and I are on our 6th Accent treatment, getting ourselves bikini ready for the summer that should arrive any day now, any day now… Now that the cellulite has disappeared from my outer thighs, thanks to Val, and we have half an hour left for our lunch, what else can we do? Like the cavalry decisively charging forward, we head to the treatment room: on to the lower buttocks! A woman’s body requires maintenance; even alpha women like Cindy Crawford, Elizabeth Hurley and I are not exempt. It is what it is: estrogen levels drop in the mid-thirties, resulting in damage to the collagen matrix that girdles the fat layer beneath the skin. As the saying goes” “90% of women have cellulite, the other 10% think they have it”

Nadine Medical esthetician at Cosmedica

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