Taking selfies from 12 inches away increases perceived nose size: report

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A man takes a selfie against Golden Horn Bay in the city of Vladivostok, Russia February 19, 2018.
A man takes a selfie against Golden Horn Bay in the city of Vladivostok, Russia February 19, 2018. Reuters/Yuri Maltsev

The nose appears bigger than its original size in selfies, particularly those taken at a distance of about 12 inches from the face. Taking pictures from this distance increases the perceived nose size by almost 30 percent, according to a new report published on Thursday in the journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.

Facial plastic surgeon at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School Boris Paskhover, who co-authored the study, said that one's appearance in a selfie is not really how he or she actually looks. Paskhover added that selfies make the nose appear thicker and wider when it is really not.

"My fear is that the generation out there now doesn't know - all they know is the selfie,” he said. Paskhover also explained that a camera pointed closer to something that projects outward, such as the nose, will make everything closer to the camera appear bigger than the rest of the face.

Paskhover illustrated the point with his colleagues by combining a mathematical model with average values for a number of facial measurements gathered for a huge number of men and women in the United States. Based on the results, a face-on portrait taken from 12 inches away makes the nose’s breadth look around 30 percent larger.

The tip of the nose appeared 7 percent bigger in those photos. Meanwhile, photos taken five feet away make facial features appear in the same proportions as they would in person.

While the size of the nose is actually different in a selfie taken from 12 inches away, some people undergo surgery to improve their looks in photos. The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery published a survey in January showing that 55 percent of facial plastic surgeons reported patients telling them they wanted to improve how they look in selfies.

Cosmetic nose surgery, Paskhover noted, is more common among the younger population. But he clarified that the message was not only for people to consider undergoing surgery. “Kids need to know that is not what you look like - you look great, don’t worry about that,” he said, adding that the selfie is “kind of like a fun-house mirror.”