C’Mon, Get Appy: The Pros and Cons of Plastic Surgery Apps

Plastic Surgery Apps

Do body-morphing and other plastic surgery apps do more harm than good?

We’ve all become a little bit “app”sessed of late.

Want to know the name of a song? There’s an app for that. Need to know which route is least congested for your commute home? There is an app for that. Want to post photos of you with your BFF’s face? There’s an app for that, too!

So it makes sense that there would also be a host of apps (short for applications) that allow us to try on cosmetic surgery before we buy, chat with local doctors, and even some that help diagnose skin cancer earlier. Most of them are FREE, but are these apps really doing us a service?

That depends on the type and the quality of the app as well as the information it analyzes and spits back out at you. Here’s what the experts have to say.

Body and Face-Morphing Apps

“There are several ‘morphing’ apps that allow prospective patients to digitally alter their image,” says Matthew Schulman, MD, a plastic surgeon based in New York City. “These apps allow patients to visually demonstrate what results they are looking for, which is better than verbally describing their desires.”

These are essentially “wish pics,” he adds. “They are illustrations of what they desire in an ideal world; however, obtaining those results is rarely realistic.”

When it comes to body-morphing apps, simple is best, Dr. Schulman concludes. “Apps that simply allow basic morphing are better than the more complex apps that allow you to alter all aspects of size, shape, contour, and color. More advanced apps tend to promote more unrealistic ‘after’ photos. A word of caution: it is important to let the patients know that these images are for demonstration only and in no way represent a promise or guarantee of results.”

Some examples:

Plastic Surgery Simulator Lite

plastic surgery simulator

What it can do: You can try on a new nose or bigger breasts. Simply download your photo, and go.

Cost: Free

Available across platforms

Perfect 365


What it can do: Want to know how you would look with powder blue eye shadow or deep red lipstick? Perfect 365 will satisfy that curiosity with virtual, custom makeovers from celebrity designers and online sensations.

Cost: Free (unless you go out and buy all the makeup you have learned to apply)

Available across platforms



What it can do: It’s surgery for your selfie – you can instantly whiten teeth, delete dark circles under your eyes, banish blemishes, and even fill in areas where your hair is not as thick and lustrous as you would like it to be.

Cost: $3.99 and up

Available on multiple platforms

Educational Apps

Educational apps are among the tools that create the greatest value and opportunity for practices to engage patients, create consultations and close surgical quotes, says San Diego, California-based plastic surgeon Tim A. Sayed, MD, MBA, FACS, Vice President, Physician Engagement at Interpreta, Inc.

“These include apps that aim for greater transparency in pricing (BuildMyBod), reduction of wasted time for practices when dealing with patients who may not be serious (Zwivel), facilitation of remote telemedicine consultation for out-of-town patients (Vsee, Skype, and others), and general patient education and marketing (Instagram and Snapchat, among others),” he says. “Today, social media is becoming increasingly dominant in patient engagement, as our business is predominantly visual. The ability to show before and afters, inform patients about what goes on in an operating room, and create a cultish devotion among followers can translate directly into new business and brand growth.”

Still, marketing plastic surgery on social media platforms can be a slippery slope. “These tools can be overused for their entertainment value, rather than the educational one, and this risks cheapening the esteem of our profession, sensationalizing or minimizing a very serious business that has risks, and blurring the lines of patient privacy,” he says.

For example, what is the line of appropriateness when sharing live videos of operations, and is the patient’s and doctor’s integrity being honored in the process? The topic is up for debate.



What it can do: Zwivel allows patients to research cosmetic procedures and virtually consult with cosmetic surgeons online. Patients can determine if a procedure is right for them, estimated fees and recovery information. If the patient is a fit for a procedure and satisfied with the doctor’s response, they can meet with the doctor for a traditional, full in-office consultation.

Cost: Free

Available for iPhone and iPad. Site is accessible through a browser on most mobile and desktop devices



What it can do: This app is all about the bottom line – how much your surgery is going to cost. You can even do some shopping for non-surgical procedures in your hood with this price transparency app.

Cost: Free (at least the app, not so much the procedures on your wish list)

Sun Safety and Skin Care Apps

“Skin-cancer detection apps are great in theory, but are likely not ready for prime time. They won’t replace a visit with a dermatologist for evaluation, but if they help get people into the office sooner, and that’s certainly a plus,” says Mark D. Kaufmann, MD, an Associate Clinical Professor of Dermatology, Department of Dermatology, at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

“The ones that say go see your dermatologist are fine – the ones that tell people they have nothing to worry about are the ones that I worry about!” Dr. Kaufmann is referring to skin cancer–related apps in general, not the specific apps highlighted below.

Dermatology A to Z


What it can do: The American Academy of Dermatology’s Dermatology A to Z offers real-time UV index based on where you are, health and beauty tips, information on diseases and treatments, and a find-a-dermatologist tool.

Cost: Free

Available across all platforms

La Roche-Posay My UV Patch and App


What it can do: The Patch and its companion app can tell you exactly how much ultraviolet light you are getting. You scan the patch, and the app analyzes the varying photosensitive dye squares to determine the amount of UV exposure, and encourages sun safer behaviors.

Cost: Free with purchase of La Roche-Posay Anthelios sunscreen

Downloadable on all platforms

Olay Skin Advisor


What it can do: This app analyzes your complexion and offers personalized skin care product picks. Just one selfie is all it takes, and you can find out your “skin age” and the areas of your face that are driving that age. The more photos and data, the more Skin Advisor learns about your skin, making it increasingly smarter with each use.

Cost: Free

Available across all platforms



What it can do: SkinVision helps you track suspicious moles and skin conditions and compare any changes over time.

Cost: Free to download, but more credits can be purchased

Available across all platforms

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