Dr. Patti Flint

How to Look Better on Camera, from a Plastic Surgeon’s Perspective

Yes, it’s still 2020 and a lot of us are still working via Zoom Calls, Microsoft Teams meetings and good old fashioned Skype or Facetime (and for good reason). If you find yourself groaning every time you’re expected to be “on camera,” you’re not alone. Staring back at your unflattering image in the corner of your screen, wondering how much worse you probably look on so-and-so’s huge monitor is not something most of us look forward to. But…just as there are things you can do in real life to improve the way you look, there are a few small things you can do in the virtual world as well.  The team at my office is a wonderful resource for this type of information so let’s jump right into some do’s and don’ts when it comes to “virtual” and “real world” facial rejuvenation.

Lighting. We’re going to start with the obvious: lighting. It makes all the difference, as you well know if you’ve ever taken a selfie. Things you want to avoid include: low light, shadows on your face, side-lighting and back-lighting. What you’re going for is a diffused natural light hitting the face evenly from the front, which will downplay wrinkles, creases, and blemishes, and will help erase shadows. While it is possible to create these environmental conditions if you have the luxury of changing locations (such as facing a sunny window), many people are investing in special devices called “ring lights” which are donut-shaped, portable lamps that can make you look fabulous on camera. Some even come with colored LED bulbs so you can choose the color that best complements your skin tone. They vary in size, quality, battery duration, and features, but there are plenty to choose from. Good ones are an investment, but they can work.

What lighting can’t fix… deep facial lines and loss of volume. Unfortunately, no matter what direction the light is coming from, it can’t hide wrinkles, crows feet, deep nasolabial folds (parentheses around the mouth) or loss of volume in the cheeks or lips. That’s a job for dermal fillers and BOTOX.  With my background and training, I can do things with dermal fillers that couldn’t even be done with surgery a few decades ago, and the results last from months up to two years. BOTOX is a wonderful option for many adults who want to maintain a youthful appearance and keep expression lines from becoming “static” wrinkles.

Camera angle. Women, if someone has not yet told you that you don’t really look like the person you see when you turn your camera on “selfie mode” and look down into it, allow me to be the first. That is a terrible angle that no one sees except maybe the puppy you are holding in your lap. This most unflattering of angles is achieved when the camera is placed too low, forcing you to lower your chin and inviting the camera to capture double chins, jowls and the chasms of your nostrils. On the other hand, raising the camera too high creates a “security camera” type look that is not what you want either. Go for eye level (raise your laptop on a stack of books if needed or adjust your webcam so that you are looking straight into it). Another tip: turn off wide-angle mode on your camera, which gives your face a distorted look when you are close up. If you are unable to make this adjustment, try backing away or moving the camera back to avoid the stretched-out, chin-focused look characteristic of a wide-angle lens.

What camera angles can’t fix… your neck. If you have excess wrinkling of your neck skin, a double chin, “turkey wattle” or jowl lines, even Hollywood won’t be able to help you until post production. I, however, can… with a neck lift, or a combination of both a face lift and neck lift.  During surgery, I remove excess fat and skin while doing a bit of sculpting to various parts of your face, neck, and jawline to create a more defined and youthful-looking aesthetic.

Your environment. A less dramatic but still effective way to improve your on-camera look is with the right clothing. Solid colors or subtle patterns work better than busy ones, and avoid white or black. If a particular color complements your skin tone, make those outfits your “on camera” go-to’s. Women, avoid tops with very low or high necklines. The former places too much emphasis on your décolletage and the latter can make it look like you are a floating head onscreen or give you a “short neck” look. Remember, people are only going to see you from the shoulders up; every little thing is going to stand out.

What your environment can’t fix…your bust-line. And, I’d like to add… your self-confidence! If you are unhappy with the way your tops fit, you might be a candidate for a breast lift, with or without breast implants, breast augmentation or breast reduction. Historically, and especially in my practice, these surgeries have extremely high satisfaction rates. My training, skill, and experience with breast surgery allows for proper pre-planning as well as proper implant size selection which, combined with my conservative approach, leads to terrific, natural-looking outcomes. During an aesthetic breast surgery consultation with me, we’ll discuss at length your goals, expectations, and options to make sure the final result is as naturally proportioned as it is stunning.

In conclusion

Yes, lighting, camera angles, and clothing choices can go a long way to helping you look your best in virtual spaces and on videos. If after employing some of these tips, however, you still are bothered by your appearance, it may be time to contact my office to set up a consultation. Just as small adjustments can have a big impact on the way you look online, the correct choices in facial rejuvenation and plastic surgery can have an even bigger impact on the way you look and feel in the real world. BOTOX, dermal fillers, chemical peels, and other non-surgical facial rejuvenation options as well as surgical options are all things I discuss with my patients as we craft a plan to help them look and feel beautiful in all aspects of life. 

I look forward to seeing you (in person) soon!

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