There’s a lot that we probably talk too much about, and then there are those subjects that stay relatively hidden.

Enter: cosmetic surgery.

Out of simple curiosity, we took a dive into our data surrounding this taboo subject, and here’s what we found:

Exactly one year ago, 17% of women over the age of 18 said they had not had surgery for cosmetic or weight-loss purposes, but they would like to. That number today is 25%. That’s an increase of 8%.

Women who want cosmetic/elective surgery has increased by 8%.

Can you guess what else increased among women by an equal 8% during the same time period? Instagram usage. Crazy, right? Or maybe it’s not so crazy.

Highlighted by our data, more women are now projecting their appearance to the world, opening themselves up to criticism and praise in the palm of their hands, and there are more who are presumably following Instagram-saturated celebrities. Could this have contributed to the rise in women who hope to go under the knife?

This isn’t the first time this question has been asked or answered, but this might be the first time the correlation has become so clear. And this is just the start.

Here’s what the numbers say:

According to a days-old report by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFRS), social media influence has become the #2 driver for cosmetic surgery nationwide. This year, more surgeons than ever (42%) reported patients “seeking cosmetic procedures to look better in selfies, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook Live and other social channels.” Given our data, this makes sense.

In addition, there has been an increase in patients wishing to look like celebrities – and here’s the interesting part. According to the AAFRS, the top requested features were Angelina Jolie’s lips and jawbone, Beyoncé’s facial structure, Kim K’s eyes and jawline, Brad Pitt and Natalie Portman’s nose.

Two of those celebrities – Kim Kardashian and Beyoncé – have consistently been among the 10 celebrities with the most followers on Instagram. Additionally, our numbers also show that those who haven’t had plastic surgery but would like to are 66% more likely than the general population to be fans of the Kardashians. Coincidence?

If you’re thinking that this is all just about looks, you might be mistaken.


One psychologist notes that women may just want to emulate these celebrities’ confidence. In fact, when doctors asked potential cosmetic surgery patients how they wanted to feel after their procedure, 76% answered “confident.”

Is it true that plastic surgery hopefuls lack self-esteem, and coming into contact with confident celebrities on Instagram may be drawing that insecurity out more than before? Take a look:

Women who want plastic surgery are less likely to make decisions quickly and confidently.

It seems possible. As you can see, women who say they haven’t had surgery but would like to are slightly less likely than the general population to say they make decisions quickly and confidently.

So, perhaps this increase we’re seeing does not stem from an increase in Instagram usage itself, but from the increased contact with confident celebrities that Instagram facilitates.

What do you think?

Interested in other insights? Check out our recent posts about marketing in the age of Instagram, fans of Angeline Jolie, and the Women’s March!