Plastic Surgery’s Shifting Public Perception
For decades, plastic surgeons and dermatologists alike have relished the results of their work in private. Normally, outcomes that appear natural pass under the radar, allowing patients to go about their existences without serious shifts in their social lives, whereas poor results that render clients tight, stretched, and unrecognizable not only give plastic surgery a bad name but spread the inaccurate perception that few people in their right mind would undergo any kind of cosmetic work.
The truth, whether obvious or not, is that for ages, people have been happily getting discreet surgical nips and tucks, but few have been open about it. That is, at least, until July 2021, when designer Marc Jacobs posted an Instagram photo of himself wrapped in a few layers of gauze and drainage tubes. Jacobs captioned the shot “Yesterday. #f*ckgravity #livelovelift,” and was thrilled to extend praise to his aesthetic surgeon, Dr. Jacono.
“The public response to Marc’s post was nothing short of astounding,” says Dr. Jacono. “It was refreshing to see millions of people banding together to celebrate the fact that a public figure was so honest about how he’d decided to take control of the way he looked.”
According to Dr. Jacono, the veil on plastic surgery has not only been lifted but been replaced with the pride and emotional honesty that social media promotes. After all, if most people are comfortable sharing their diets, exercise routines, and injection choices on public platforms (the Real Housewives and the Kardashians have even taken the cameras to their dermatology appointments), then what is the harm in acquainting the world with surgical developments?
Why the Sudden Change?
One of the primary reasons for this recent shift in plastic surgical perception, unsurprisingly, is that people have become hyper-aware of the simple truth that we are neither perfect nor ageless.
“There’s no longer a reason to misrepresent reality,” says Dr. Jacono. “Thanks so social media, most of us are increasingly aware of our imperfections and are tired of pretending that these sorts of flaws don’t exist. That’s why Marc coming out and saying, ‘Hey, this is okay,’ meant something to so many people—nobody wants to hear a celebrity claim that smearing olive oil on their face makes them look younger. In fact, listening to those kinds of lies makes us all feel inferior.”
Interestingly, this radical honesty has not yet trickled down to the majority of Jacono’s patients. Of every 100 people he sees, around 15 agree to show their before-and-after photographs on his Instagram account, which has amassed a following of almost 500,000. At the same time, though, he has noticed that patients’ willingness to broadcast their results does not break down along generational lines.
“You’d think that younger people would be more willing than older people to show their outcomes on social media, but this isn’t necessarily the case,” says Dr. Jacono. “I routinely have patients in their 50s and 60s ask me to post their before-and-after pictures. It’s pretty amazing to see.”
Still, as more influencers choose honesty, the more comfortable the average man or woman will feel about opting for better solutions. For example, when Gwyneth Paltrow began to use Xeomin to “look less pissed off,” and subsequently founded Goop, she inspired broader cultural conversations about wellness, mental health, and intimacy that were previously too difficult to navigate.
“The goal of any wellness routine—whether it be meditation, skincare, a special diet, or even injections and plastic surgery—is to make you feel better about who you are,” says Dr. Jacono. “There’s no reason to believe that you don’t have the right to look your best. In other words, days of personal dissatisfaction are quickly drifting behind us, and better for everyone that they are!”