Fact check: Photos show The Weeknd wearing prosthetics for music video

Posts on social media are making the claim that Canadian singer Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, known as The Weeknd had “plastic surgery” to alter his face. This is false, as photos show the musician was wearing prosthetics for a music video.

Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, known as The Weeknd, arrives at the international premiere of "Uncut Gems" at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Examples of posts thinking his new look is permanent can be seen here and here  .

While some users acknowledge the images circulating on social media show the musician wearing makeup, others appear to think he had surgery. Some comments include: “Why do our people keep mutilating themselves...” and “I’m so upset about this. His mental health is taking a toll on him and everyone laughing.”

The claim started circulating after the “Save Your Tears” music video premiered on Jan. 5 (visible on YouTube here ), where the musician is seen with an exaggerated plastic surgery aesthetic, with fuller lips and more pronounced cheekbones.

Some iterations of this claim include two images: a screenshot of a tweet by Page Six ( here )  that reads “Bandages are off: The Weeknd's plastic surgery look shocks fans” and a photograph posted on his Instagram on Jan. 5 here ).

The Page Six tweet linked to a New York Post article  here  that said it was unclear if “his disturbing new look” was achieved through prosthetics or CGI (computer generated imagery)” and makes clear it is for his “Save Your Tears” music video.

As reported by The Cut  here , the prosthetics worn by Tesfaye were developed by Prosthetic Renaissance, which describes itself as “an artistic powerhouse of design and makeup effects” ( ).

On Jan. 5, Prosthetic Renaissance published a gallery post on Instagram ( here ) showing the look consisted of “4 prosthetic appliances” and the “main face being a collapsible mold”. 

Previous makeup looks worn by The Weeknd also created by Prosthetic Renaissance can be seen  here  ,   here  , and  here  .

In the music videos for his fourth album After Hours, the Weeknd’s multiple looks have featured apparent facial injuries (for example here , here , here ). At the 2020 American Music Awards, on Nov. 22 he performed with a bandaged head and bruises around his eyes (  here  ,  here   ).

According to Marie Claire ( here , the look in the “Save Your Tears” music video “advanced the story by showing his face in what appears to be the aftermath of plastic surgery”. But this new look “like the others, isn’t real —it's just prosthetics”.

In a video  here  promoting The Weeknd’s performance of the half-time show at the 2021 Super Bowl ( here ), posted on Jan. 8, the artist can be seen without prosthetics at around timestamp 00:24 here .

The Weeknd’s representatives and Prosthetic Renaissance did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.


Misleading. Images show The Weeknd wearing prosthetics for the music video “Save Your Tears”.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here  .