The Kardashian Effect: Reality TV and Social Media Celebs Fuel Plastic Surgery Boom

The Kardashian Effect: Reality TV and Social Media Celebs Fuel Plastic Surgery Boom

Plastic surgery is nothing new in Los Angeles, a city where beauty and youth are currency. It’s been popular since the early twentieth century, but usually as a palliative, “after the fact” method to deal with the natural aging process. However, the average age of patients seems to be getting younger every year. The year 2016 saw a nearly 40% rise in non-invasive procedures (like Juvederm and Botox injections) among millenials. However, procedures like rhinoplasty and mini-lifts are also gaining popularity among young people.

This phenomenon even has a name: The Kardashian Effect (no doubt the Jenners are upset about that one). The Kardashians have been awarded this dubious honor because of Kim’s alledged BBL procedure, and because they no longer look anything like they did five years ago.

Industry experts say that procedures that used to be reserved for people 35 and older are now popular among 20 year-olds. What’s behind this recent trend? There are several theories as to the most likely suspect.


Why is one social media app being targeted for this trend? Some people have theorized that young millenials have internalized the filters and effects on Instagram as a type of perfection–how one is “supposed” to look. Fillers that boost collagen production emulate these effects and filters. Others say that the issue isn’t quite as simple as the attempt to achieve “digital perfection”. They argue that people know that these images are doctored, but that doesn’t stop them. This leads us to the next potential culprit…

Misconceptions and Misinformation

Some young people seem to believe that the plastic surgery and appearance altering treatments are a preventative measure; they believe that these procedures will prevent them from aging. Unfortunately, that’s far from true. Injections like these carry a potential risk of muscle atrophy.

In fact, in a sadly ironic twist, many young actresses choose to get an injection of some sort of filler. Then, a few months later, they end up requesting to have the procedure reversed. Why? Because their faces aren’t elastic and emotive enough for them to be convincing actors!

Some of this misinformation can be at least partially linked to the cosmetic industry’s recent shifts in marketing. In recent years, they’ve begun to advertise retinol products and peptide cream, mostly to women in their early twenties. While this might not seem like enough of a “gateway” to Botox or Juvederm, these advertising messages do plant aging anxiety in young people.


Another reason that millenials are beginning to use these products is the simple fact that they’re available now. While these procedures used to be an exclusive privilege of moneyed Beverly Hills residents, even many small towns now have some sort of “medi-spa” that offers Botox, Juvederm, and other types of fillers, in addition to their more standard services like manicures and brow-shaping.

Other Negative Effects of Technology

In addition to Instagram’s influence on body image, technology plays other roles in these struggles as well. Doctors have reported that some teenagers are beginning to develop squint lines from looking at screens excessively! Interestingly, chiropractors have also noted an alarming number of millenials with neck and back problems associated with looking down at their smartphones. We’re not advocating giving up your phone entirely; that’s crazy talk. It’s a good idea to take a break every once in awhile, though.

Fighting Back

You’ve heard it a million times, but it’s true: knowledge is power.

When you not only recognize, but internalize the fact that almost no model’s picture on Instagram is an accurate representation of how that person looks “irl,” you might end up reconsidering cosmetic procedures. The long-term effects of the procedures aren’t widely known yet; while most recipients may be perfectly fine, some people face the frightening possibility of muscular atrophy and facial paralysis.

We hope that millenials begin to recognize that the risks outweigh the rewards, but judging by recent statistics, it may be awhile before we can write that story.