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Selfies, Botox for Depression & Thigh Gap—Media Hype or New Reality?

Article-Selfies, Botox for Depression & Thigh Gap—Media Hype or New Reality?

Could selfies be pushing more Americans to plastic surgery?

Can depression be treated with Botox?

Is the “thigh gap” really a growing plastic surgery trend?

I may not have all the answers, but I can say this: Mainstream media has gotten really good at knowing how to grab our attention with their stream of creative headlines that make you go hmm… On one hand, we’ve heard some version of all of this before; on the other, inquiring minds want to know: Is there any validity with these claims?


What it is: A photograph you take of yourself on a cell phone.

Claim: Selfies are pushing more Americans to plastic surgery.

New idea?

Nope. In fact, Joe Niamtu, DMD, very eloquently states in a recent blog, “Appearance in pictures has always been a reason for someone to consider cosmetic surgery and it has remained common for my three decades to hear someone say ‘I did not know my neck looked so bad’ or chin, or eyelids…”

Question: So could selfies be pushing more Americans to plastic surgery?

Answer: An influencing factor? Sure. But says Ranella Hirsh, MD, Boston, Mass., “We are finding this to be just another in a line of media-induced concerns,” pointing out that it’s not just selfies, but also online dating, Facebook, Linked In and other channels where we see—and may be critical of—ourselves.

Dr. Niamtu agrees that how we see ourselves in pictures has always been a motivational factor for seeking out aesthetic enhancements, but to claim that selfies are responsible? “Even for someone like myself who makes a living doing cosmetic surgery that sounds extraordinarily frivolous,” he says.

Next: Can depression be treated with Botox?



What it is: The use of injectable neurotoxins to inhibit frowning.

Claim: Botox can improve depressive symptoms.

New Idea?

No. In 2006 Eric Finzi and Erika Wasserman published a pilot study in Dermatologic Surgery that reported facial injections with neurotoxins positively influenced the mood of clinically depressed patients.

In 2012, M. Axel Wollemer et al. published the findings of their randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial design in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, which examined botulinum toxin injections into the glabella as an adjunctive treatment for clinical depression. They found improvement in depressed patients who had not responded to more traditional medications. Their conclusion was that facial musculature has the power to express and regulate mood states.

Most recently, Eric Finzi and Norman Rosenthal have followed up on that initial pilot study from 2006 with the largest double-blind, placebo-controlled study yet that examines the effect of Botox on depression. In the study, which was published online in December 2013 in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, Finzi concludes, “A single treatment with OBA to the corrugator and procerus muscles appears to induce a significant and sustained antidepressant effect in patients with major depression.”

Question: So can depression be treated with Botox?

Answer: According to the research, there is symptom improvement. But the real question here is, has this crept into the cosmetic practice? According to members of my editorial advisory board, not really. The bigger question that remains, in this humble editor’s opinion is, will it? Just think of the marketing possibilities:

  • Feeling blue? Brighten up with a little Botox.
  • Find your sunshine in a syringe… Schedule your injectable treatment today!

Of course, this is tongue-in-cheek. (Just imagine the onslaught of FDA warning letters.)

Next: Is the “thigh gap” really a growing plastic surgery trend?



What it is: The space between the inner thighs when standing upright with both knees touching.

Claim: The “thigh gap” is a growing trend.

New idea?

Not really, but it’s certainly done a 180 since my days of youth. As a girl, I remember the negative connotations of this rarely occurring anatomical shape. Unless you were Wonder Woman (check out an old episode that features Linda Carter in her blue thigh-baring briefs)—and hence above any such criticism—a gap between the thighs was not something a good girl desired (a-hem).

Today, however, it’s a different story. We have the Victoria Secret models who spawned a nation of thigh-gap groupies after their December 2012 television special. (What girl doesn’t want to look like an Angel, after all?)

Question: Despite the social chatter that has since ensued, is the “thigh gap” really a growing plastic surgery trend?

Answer: Not according the handful of doctors I’ve talked with. Sure, liposuction of the thighs in general is a popular procedure, but specific conversations about “thigh gap”? Not so much.

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