This year, a plastic surgeon in Virginia started a media frenzy when he publicized a procedure that he said could help people look younger when they appear on Skype and other video-chat services.He named the surgery the FaceTime Face-Lift, after the popular iPhone feature.
“People don’t come in asking for a FaceTime Face-Lift per se,” Dr. Robert K. Sigal of the Austin-Weston Center for Cosmetic Surgery in Reston, Va., said in a YouTube video.“what they’ll say is that ‘I don’t like the way I look when I’m video-chatting.’ ”
The blogosphere pounced on the news, often painting Sigal as predatory and his patients as vain. But the FaceTime Face-Lift was more than just provocative branding.
Sigal, who charges $10,000 for the procedure, said that people usually gaze down into their video-chat devices — which is just about the least flattering angle, shortening the face and accentuating any fat under the chin.The procedure he developed, he said, reduces sagging necks but doesn’t leave a scar under the chin — where the camera usually points — as traditional neck-lifts do.
About a quarter of the 100 face-lift patients he saw last year — including his wife — cited how they look on webcams as a reason for going under the knife, he said.other plastic surgeons have heard similar concerns, said Dr. Malcolm Z. Roth, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
The phenomenon isn’t surprising, given how pervasive video chats have become for everything from job interviews to online dating.
A management consultant in Virginia who requested anonymity said she underwent a FaceTime Face-Lift in part because she communicates so much by video conferencing. In a video conference, the screen shows not only the other party’s face but also the user’s, in a corner inset.
“When you’re video-calling someone, you can no longer ignore the fact” that your face and neck are starting to droop, the consultant said.
Sigal likened it to “a mirror on steroids.”
These new anxieties are a function of the omnipresent camera, said Rosalind W. Picard, a professor of media arts and sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“Back when you just kind of chatted with people, you didn’t know you had broccoli in your teeth,” she added. “now, the camera shows you all the horrible stuff.”