What Happens When a Social Media Star Comes Clean About Plastic Surgery?

Elise Solé
Social media star Lele Pons admitted to having had plastic surgery. (Photo: Lele Pons/Instagram)

You’ve probably heard of Lele Pons, who is unofficially the most famous social media star in the world.

The Latina beauty has amassed more than 1 million Twitter and 16.8 million Instagram followers, and 3 million Facebook fans, who can’t get enough of watching the platinum-blond 20-year-old twerk on rooftops, prank on her friends, and streak naked through the streets of Los Angeles. However, what distinguishes Pons, who was recently named brand ambassador for CoverGirl and walked the runway for Dolce & Gabbana, is her brutal transparency about beauty.

On Thursday, Pons confessed to having undergone cosmetic surgery, posting a previous profile image with a current one on Instagram. The caption said, “A year and a half ago I decided to do something I always wanted to do since 13, and finally got a nose job. Do what makes you happy and comfortable; this is me before and now.”


It was the second time Pons reminded fans that she’s gone under the knife. Back in 2015, she tweeted, “I did get a nose job #dowhatmakesyouhappy,” along with an “after” photo.

Other social media stars have made similar admissions, such as Anastasia Karanikolaou — aka Kylie Jenner’s bestie — who is paid to promote products like SugarBearHair (vitamins for hair). In February, she told Harper’s Bazaar that she got a breast lift to correct her asymmetrical breasts. “I was very open to sharing — plastic surgery is nothing to be ashamed of,” she told the magazine. And in 2015, a teenage social media star named Essena O’Neill from Australia announced her retirement from social media by revealing the imperfect truth behind each curated selfie.


“I found myself drowning in the illusion,” O’Neill wrote on her former website, Let’s Be Game Changers, according to New York magazine. “Social media isn’t real. It’s purely contrived images and edited clips ranked against each other. It’s a system based on social approval, likes and dislikes, validation in views, success in followers … it’s perfectly orchestrated judgment. And it consumed me.”

It’s well documented that social media has had an impact on the cosmetic surgery industry. In the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 33.8 percent of cosmetic surgeons credited social media for a boost in business. Per a survey conducted by RealSelf, an online source for cosmetic treatment reviews, when 527 people were asked whether social media affected their decision to go under the knife, 15.37 percent said “yes,” while 33.4 percent said that online photos made them more “aware” of their desires. And 40 percent of surgeons say that patients cite looking better in selfies as motivation, according to a recent American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery survey.

What’s less known is how plastic surgery affects the business of online fame, especially for people who are paid to promote beauty brands. “Instagram has evolved from an authentic space for people to share photos of their lives to a business platform for crafting and monetizing a beautiful existence,” Krista Neher, CEO of digital marketing agency Boot Camp Digital, tells Yahoo Beauty. “But over the past two to three years, there’s been a shift to people craving that authenticity and credibility, so influencers are posting more realistic images.

“Presenting a perfect life isn’t interesting,” Neher says. “It’s easier to empathize and relate to someone when they’re being honest.”

As to whether brutal honesty affects the livelihood of social stars, that depends on the brand in business. “Would having plastic surgery align with, say, Dove’s Real Beauty campaigns?” asks Neher. “Probably not. However, most businesses hire stars that fit their mission in the first place.”

Most important, Lele Pons’s honesty is refreshing in a sea of social media perfection. Neher adds, “Who says plastic surgery is a bad thing, anyway?”

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