Why you should care
Isn’t it better to get the fullest picture before going under the knife?
In this original weeklong series, The Plastics: The Changing Face of Cosmetic Surgery, join OZY for a guided tour at the frontiers of enhancement, from aesthetics to pain relief to power performance.
Looking in the mirror, I feel pretty OK with what looks back at me. Sure, my lips could be bigger and my skin smoother, but I like my eyes, cheeks and profile. If I was going to invest in cosmetic surgery? Maybe a face-lift in my 50s, maybe some Kardashian-inspired lip filler. But that’s not what facial analysis company Analyze My Face recommends. It says my lips are my best feature, and suggests that due to poor chin projection and weak lower eyelids, I could think about fillers or a Madame Butterfly procedure. The basis of its service: It’s not always the most obvious features that need attention.
In 2016, 15.9 million cosmetic surgery procedures took place in America, including 217,979 rhinoplasties and 203,394 eyelid surgeries. Doctors often create simulated images of the outcome for patients to help expectations. But these simulations are expensive — costing thousands of dollars — and people worry that the doctors making them are biased: They’re running a business after all. But options are limited. The only other real recourse to visualizing your new face is hiring a Photoshop wiz (likely with no medical experience) or sifting through the countless gimmicky apps littering the web.
The surgeon anonymity means there’s no incentive for doctors to self-promote.
“It’s a jungle out there, and it’s irreversible,” says 27-year-old U.N. worker Edward Fiorentini (not his real name). A couple of years ago, the Italian was in a serious motorbike accident that required jaw, cheek and nose surgery. But Fiorentini didn’t like the results; something seemed “off.” He went for cosmetic consultations, but wasn’t impressed with their lack of suggestions (ethically, most surgeons refrain from saying what people need fixed). Having studied the physics of beauty, Fiorentini knew that angles and symmetry are what make a face attractive; people might want a nose job, but really a chin implant would give them a better overall look — and at a lower cost.
Still, it’s hard to know that without a visualization, so in January 2017, he launched Analyze My Face to show people seeking surgery what would look best on them. Here’s how it works. After customers upload front and profile images, they are reviewed by a team of anonymous surgeons who evaluate and make recommendations — and consult on the Photoshop that’s performed on the pics. The surgeon anonymity means there’s no incentive for doctors to self-promote, which helps users trust their judgment. “This was created to eliminate the need for countless revision and useless surgeries,” Fiorentini says. “We want patients to perform the least amount of procedures possible for the best result, not enter into a vicious cycle of endless revisions, depression and bad results.”
There are three tiers to pick from, ranging from $34 for a basic assessment to $274 for one that includes X-ray analysis. Of course, there’s no way of knowing for sure that these images will live up to your post-op recovery, and Fiorentini admits that there can be variance — after all, no surgery is the same. He’s seen some post-op pics of AMF users, however, and says the overlap is striking. Obviously there is room for abuse with this service — for example, people with body dysmorphia — but the same thing can be said about any online service.
At its heart, the service is not about making people opt into surgery, but making sure people who are already interested understand their choices. “We’re not about having 200 surgeries to reach perfection, but for doing the minimal work for the best outcome,” he says. Can’t disagree with that.