Many smartphone users have suspected they look different and better than their selfies suggest. Turns out they were right, and there’s science to back it up. A new survey published by JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery says selfies can make people’s noses look 30% bigger than they actually are.
The study reveals that the short distance of the camera from the face when selfies are taken–usually about 12 inches–combined with the wide-angle lens cause the nose to appear bigger. The best distance to take selfies from for accuracy is at least five feet away.
The “selfie effect,” as JAMA terms it, has actually been a nice thing for plastic surgeons, because it’s contributed to a marked increase in people seeking out rhinoplasty. According to a 2017 survey from the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, 55% of doctors reported patients requesting nose jobs at least in part because they wanted better-looking selfies. That’s a 13% increase from 2016.
“Before cell phone cameras we used to have to be in front a of a mirror to analyze our appearance, and those aren’t nearly as readily available as cell phones are,” says New York City plastic surgeon Dr. David Cangello, who specializes in rhinoplasty. “We weren’t quite as obsessed, and the fact that social media renders selfies immortal can psychologically make people more concerned with having a great image of themselves.”