Smartphone cameras are performing a bit of magic: They’re enlarging our noses.
Not literally, of course. But when taking selfies, those self-photographs shot with the lens just inches from the face, the camera distorts what for many is their most-prominent feature — their schnozzle.
That’s what researchers at Rutgers and Stanford universities reported earlier this year. It’s work that might be an eye opener for people considering plastic surgery to correct what they perceive to be an overly large nose.
With the camera just a foot from the face, researchers found that nose width is increased by 30 percent in men and 29 percent in women.
It’s a trick of photography, though the precise measurement of that nose enlargement relies on complex mathematical modeling. The closer that a camera gets to the face, the more significant the distortion. Five feet out, researchers say, the nose’s dimensions look normal in photographs.
This is not a trivial finding for plastic surgeons. Indeed, an industry survey found that 55 percent of facial plastic surgeons in 2017 saw patients who wanted to look better in their selfies. That compares with 13 percent in 2016.
In 2017, more than 218,000 “nose jobs” were performed on Americans. And plastic surgeons worry that some of those people may be getting the wrong impression about their nose size from the selfies they’re posting on social media.
Researchers note that surgeons need to talk to patients to manage expectations. Surgery won’t alter the physics of photography.
Nobody, after all, wants to get their nose redone only to realize it still looks like a honker in their postsurgical selfies.