Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the saying goes. But when it comes to cosmetic surgery for enhancing appearance, industry experts say social media postings of attractive people can skew a patient’s perspective and expectations. 

Cosmetic surgery is a personal decision that can permanently change one’s appearance, so patients need to learn beforehand what type of enhancement will complement their natural look – and what might be overdoing it, says Dr. Scott Miller, a cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon.  

“An ‘Instagram face’ is not authentic beauty. Personalized balance and proportion are more important than stereotypical perfection standards. Patients should be asking what they should do, not what they could do. Not every wrinkle needs to be filled or flattened. Sometimes the take is not worth the give.” 

Dr Scott Miller

5 Tips to Guide You

Miller offers five tips as a guide to how much cosmetic surgery – if any – is right for you: 

  1. Do it for the right reasons. Men and women of all ages choose cosmetic surgery for various reasons, and in most cases, it’s a want, not a need. “If they’re considering doing it to please someone else, that’s a red flag,” Dr Miller says. “If they’re doing it to address something about their face or body that’s bothered them for a long time, or has hindered their personal or professional life, those are good reasons. If cosmetic surgery will make them more self-confident, great, but it’s not healthy to expect that other issues in their life will suddenly fall into place. They need to have reasonable expectations.” 
  2. Less is sometimes more. “A cosmetic surgeon’s goal should be to optimize the patient’s natural beauty, a look that’s pleasing to the person and one that  transcends trends,” Dr Miller says. “Sometimes patients and surgeons push the envelope and the results look disproportionate to the body. A good partnership between patient and surgeon respects the art of less is more. Surgery has its place, and it can produce fantastic results, but there are other tools and tricks as well.” 
  3. Don’t make it an experiment. “If you want to experiment, do it with your hair, clothes, makeup and nails,” Dr Miller says. “But do not do it with your face. Trends in facial surgery come and go, but unlike other aspects of fashion and beauty, you usually can’t go back and change a surgery.” 
  4. Learn from what you see. Dr Miller says it’s easy to spot some people who have had cosmetic surgery, and that’s not always a good look. “The best cosmetic surgery is cosmetic surgery you can’t see,” he says. “Some patients say they can tell on the street when someone has had filler or a facelift, and I tell them the only cosmetic surgery you can see is usually badly done surgery. It creates an artificial look that decreases the body image.” 
  5. Be on the same page with your surgeon. “Patients should feel heard, and they should choose a cosmetic surgeon whose philosophy of beauty they share,” Dr Miller says. “True beauty is idiosyncratic and personal. When done right, the surgery respects one’s body while augmenting aspects of the body in a way that is complementary to their physique. There is no one perfect look. A cosmetic surgeon’s job is to help patients reveal their best self.” 

“Cosmetic surgery should not be an impulsive decision, but one that is very carefully thought out. It can enhance one’s unique beauty, but it’s not about making them look like a celebrity.” 

Dr Scott Miller

Dr Scott Miller is a board-certified cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon and the founder of Miller Cosmetic Surgery Center in La Jolla, Calif.