Berlin/ Lindau – Werner Mang has been fulfilling beauty wishes for more than 30 years. But he is sending more and more young patients away, says the head of the Lake Constance Clinic for Plastic Surgery in Lindau. “This morning I had a 13-year-old girl here again who wanted kylie Jenner’s nose,” says the 71-year-old, who already pointed Götz George’s nose. “This development is sick. Mark Zuckerberg has created monsters.”
Social media and photo filters as drivers of a new beauty craze among young people? The plastic surgeon Alexander Hilpert also sees this as a dangerous development. “If you often send pictures of yourself, you also want to look more beautiful,” says the 56-year-old, who practices in Duisburg and Düsseldorf. “This has increased dramatically in recent years, and these requests are now coming daily.”
Reliable figures are not available to the German Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (DGÄPC). In its annual statistics for 2020, the association only recorded actual interventions and the motivation to do so, but not the rejected requests. According to the study, patients only presented digitally processed templates of themselves as a target in 2.3 percent of cases – a decrease of 11.7 percent compared to the previous year.
How many times a week do teens use Tiktok?
“The statistics are due to Corona,” says Hilpert. “I certainly assume that these requests will increase again.” After all, during the pandemic, young people are even more likely to travel in the digital space than before. “People only see beautifully morphed role models there,” Hilpert emphasizes. “And when you imitate dances on Tiktok, you often want to look like that.”
According to the JIM study presented at the end of last year, young people used Instagram, Snapchat, Tiktok and Co. more frequently in the pandemic year 2020 compared to the previous year. The increase was most significant on Tiktok: The number of young people who reported using the app at least several times a week increased by 19 percent. The app was particularly popular with 12- to 15-year-olds.
Anyone who wants to become role models there or their own filter selfie should be sent away again, Mang and Hilpert emphasize. “But it’s clear that they will then go somewhere else,” says Mang. “Unfortunately, they often come back to me when the damage has already occurred.” Mang therefore calls for stricter criteria in the training of aesthetic plastic surgeons.
Is cosmetic surgeon a protected profession?
“This is a wild growth,” says Mang. “It’s possible for someone to operate on a nose without ever having done so before during the training period.” When looking for a doctor, one should therefore pay attention to the title “plastic surgery” or “plastic surgery”.
Apart from that, there are many specialists from other areas who earn money through beauty procedures, says Alexander Hilpert. They are allowed to call themselves cosmetic surgeons because this is not a protected professional title. “Even naturopaths are allowed to inject wrinkles according to the law, the training can also be done online,” says Hilpert. “You have to have an idea of anatomy in order not to hit important blood vessels, for example.”
To avoid interventions by unqualified providers, he often recommends young patients to simply come back a few years later, Hilpert says. “Then you get a small discount.”
Video conferences show the age of the participants mercilessly
But even adults are increasingly seeing themselves on their own screen due to the corona pandemic: Video conferences have long been part of everyday life for many employees in the home office. According to the DGÄPC, beauty procedures in 2020 were conspicuously often about changes in the face.
“Many have seen themselves constantly on Zoom during the Corona period,” says Hilpert. “That’s why many come and say they would like to have eyelid surgery.” Video conferences showed the age of the participants “mercilessly,” says clinic director Werner Mang. According to the DGÄPC, this was also the case in distance learning: 27 percent of the members stated that teachers came to their practice more often than usual in spring 2020.
“Beauty spapst” Werner Mang remains cautious even with these interventions. He himself has never put himself under the knife, emphasizes the 71-year-old. “I’m proud of my bags under my eyes.”