Teens want more 'face value' on social networks

City cosmetologists have noted that more and more youngsters -- many in their teens -- want to undergo cosmetic procedures, with the aim of looking better in the social networking profiles they maintain online

On the face of it: Cosmetic physicians say that young clients often complain that their picture on BBM is not attractive enough, or that they aren't getting enough friend requests because of their average looks. pic for representation

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder -- especially the thousands that behold you on Facebook, Orkut, BBM and other social networking sites. This is the creed that teens and tweens across the city seem to believe in, these days. If city cosmetologists are to be believed, the need to look good has assumed rather extreme proportions in the age of social networking, with an increasing number of youngsters willing to go under the knife for cosmetic procedures, just so they can look better in the photographs and videos they upload of themselves online.

"Everything that you do now is on Facebook -- you go to a party, and the next thing you know, there are pictures of the event on your profile, uploaded by you or any of your peers. In these virtual times, everyone wants to look good, not just in social circles, but in virtual hubs too. Their friends on Facebook and Twitter make them feel more self-conscious about their looks than youngsters earlier felt," said Dr Jamuna Pai, cosmetic physician at Blush Clinic.

Pai added that while earlier it was movie stars who would popularise cosmetic procedures and patronise clinics that offered them, the methods have now become popular among youngsters, and that it is the peer pressure to look good, both online and offline, that gives rise to the pressure to go under the knife.

According to doctors, the cosmetic industry has experienced unprecedented growth in the last few years, irrespective of financial constraints imposed by the economic downturn. "The cost of procedures has remained more or less stationary, but awareness about them has increased owing to the internet, triggering the need to look good, no matter what. I have 16-18-year-old girls, with slightly fleshed out cheeks, who walk in asking for lean faces, or pouts. We do not operate on young children, and usually talk them out of the procedures. They sometimes complain that their picture on BBM does not look attractive enough, or that they aren't getting enough friend requests because of their average looks. This is an alarming trend, and most responsible doctors would never encourage kids to opt for these procedures," said Dr Rashmi Shetty, a cosmetic physician who runs a clinic in Santacruz.

These procedures cost between Rs 10,000 and Rs 1.5 lakh, depending on the number of sittings and injections used in course of the treatment.

Confirming the trend noticed by city cosmetologists, city dermatologist Dr Satish Bhatia said, "It's a myth that botox, fillers and other cosmetic procedures are popular only among the older generation. This year, we have observed that many young people want botox injections, to fix their eyebrows at particular angles, or to change the angle of the jaw line. The procedure popularly referred to as Nefertiti's neck is very popular among young girls who wish to define their jaw lines."

Dr Bhatia claimed that 25-30 people in their 20s and early 30s walk into his clinic for face lifts every month, asking for facelifts. Unlike older clients who approach him to get rid of wrinkles and frown lines, the younger lot usually walks in in seach of more 'presentable' faces.

"There is no face that cannot be enhanced -- sunken eyes, tear troughs are no longer problems afflicting those in their 40s," added Dr Pai.

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