The Kardashian Effect: How Their ‘Reality’ Changed The Way We View Cosmetic Treatments

The Kardashian Effect: How Their ‘Reality’ Changed The Way We View Cosmetic Treatments featured image
Frazer Harrison / Staff / Getty Images

Whether you love the Kardashian clan or can do without them, one thing is for sure: you cannot deny their influence on plastic surgery and aesthetics. Would Kim Kardashian West have been as famous without her overly-pronounced rear? Would we all know the term ‘Vampire Facial’ without that now infamous image of Kim covered in bright red blood going viral? Or would the Kylie Cosmetic Lip Kit ever sold out if she didn’t emerge into adulthood with a new set of plumper lips?


Like it or not, the Kardashian-Jenner family has had a lasting effect on how we view cosmetic treatments. From Brazilian Butt Lifts, to lip fillers to skin tightening and toning treatments, we’ve seen it or have speculated it all thanks to their penchant for tweaking, treating, and enhancing almost every part of the human body. 

Now, as Keeping Up with the Kardashians comes to a close on its final season, we look at the Kardashian Effect on the aesthetic field and how doctors and surgeons feel about their long-lasting influence.   

Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon, MD says, there’s little doubt the Kardashians as a group have influenced cosmetic trends more than any other group of influencers in recent times. “That influence goes across the board, cosmetics, skin care, fillers, Botox Cosmetic, and plastic surgery,” he explains. “As an Emmy-winning talk show host of The Doctors, now in my 13th season, we discuss beauty and cosmetic surgery trends on a daily basis. The Kardashians are referred to more often than not.”

“They have certainly risen the awareness of some of the things we do,” adds Concord, CA plastic surgeon Eric Mariotti, MD. “While they might have lowered the threshold for patients to seek treatment, I also think they’ve been responsible somewhat for patients raising expectations beyond what’s realistic.”

Boston facial plastic surgeon Min S. Ahn, MD says even in his own practice, opinions are split. “On one hand, my patient advisor says they have influenced people to be more open about their experience with cosmetic surgery and treatments. In the past people weren’t as willing to admit to the work they have had done. However, my nurse injector tells me that her patients ask NOT to look like the Kardashians because they are overdone. So, I guess they have increased awareness, but they represent an extreme that most don’t want.”

For San Antonio, TX dermatologist Vivian Bucay, MD, Kim’s recent battle with a common skin condition has been helpful for some patients: “Kim’s candor about having to wear body makeup to cover her psoriasis and make her legs look flawless has had a positive impact on patients because they are now okay with wearing body makeup rather looking for treatments to even out their skin.”

Another treatment KKW is responsible for introducing to the world is one we came to know then as the Vampire Facial. “We do get a ton of questions about the ‘Vampire Facial,’ to which I respond, ‘Yes we do that, and it is called microneedling with PRP,'” says Prospect, KY dermatologist Tami Buss Cassis, MD.

“In 2013, when Kardashian-West shared her ‘Vampire Facial’ on social media, the post literally went viral. At the time, the treatment seemed so very other worldly, unattainable, even mystical and symbolized what seemed to be the great lengths that she would go to have beautiful skin,” adds Bloomfield Hills, MI dermatologist Linda C. Honet, MD. “And yet today, microneedling with platelet-rich plasma has become one of the most popular and affordable cosmetic treatments available.”

Will we miss the next-level treatments the family introduces to the public? Maybe so, but their influence will no doubt live on. “Although they may have spurred an overdone movement in cosmetics, they definitely reduced taboos and freed conversations on lip augmentations, ‘Vampire Facials’ and butt lifts,” adds Davie, FL dermatologist Marianna Blyumin-Karasik, MD. “This ultimately lead to a familiarity and comfort in our cosmetic patients pursuing these treatments.” In that way, their cosmetic treatment-loving legacy will continue to live on, long after the last episode airs.

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