When Kathy Sharpe video chats with friends and relatives, she says she can't stand the way she looks. The newly single mother of two, who wants to start dating online, says those first impressions can make a big difference.
"I would notice that I had like five chins. My chin just went straight into my neck," said Sharpe.
Sharpe is all too aware of the impact on physical appearance. She works at CosmetiCare in Newport Beach and hears complaints about the same thing all the time. Sharpe just lost 15 pounds, but it didn't do much for how she felt when she saw how she looked on her laptop.
"Most of the time, if they lose weight, the skin hangs even more because the fat actually helps fill. So if they lose weight, the skin gets looser," said Dr. Burr von Maur, a facial plastic surgeon.
Maur says this patient-fueled trend inspired what he and his partners call a "Skype facelift." The procedure is similar to a regular facelift, except the Skype Lift concentrates on the lower face and jaw line.
Whether you're using the camera on your cellphone or on your laptop, you're often seen from below, so Maur says it's important for the incision under your chin to be as small as possible.
"It leaves a scar that's not really visible on camera. And through our new technology, we can take out the excess fullness underneath the chin and we can tighten the jaw at the same time," said Maur.
Sharpe's surgery took about three hours. Potential complications, like infection, are about the same as with any other facelift. Maur says people in poor physical health, particularly smokers, are not good surgical candidates.
Kathy was very pleased with the Skype Lift, but she got an even bigger psychological lift when she talked to her daughter online.
The cost for a Skype Lift can vary depending on how extensive the procedure is, but the average cost is about $5,000.