Snapchat dysmorphia - 'selfie-face' aspirations see rise in plastic surgery requests

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Snapchat and Facetune as well as other social media apps come under fire in a new JAMA article. These apps are being increasingly used, causing more and more youngsters to alter and edit their faces to modify their actual appearance.

The need for perfect faces as seen with those filters is on the rise say experts and so are the requests for facial plastic surgery.

According to a latest essay that appeared in the journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, dermatology professors from Boston University have written that nearly 55 percent of the plastic surgeons are reporting that they are increasingly being sought after for improving selfie appearances of their patients.

The authors of the essay call this “Snapchat dysmorphia” where the filters in these apps are setting unattainable beauty standards for youngsters.

Image Credit: ESB Professional / Shutterstock
Image Credit: ESB Professional / Shutterstock

There have been studies previously that show that young patients may often ask for cosmetic changes that make them resemble celebrities. Now the trend is to appear slimmer and more symmetrical and smoother as the persons appear after using editing tools. These filters can sharpen the nose, augment lips and widen eyes add the writers. They write, “This is an alarming trend because those filtered selfies often present an unattainable look and are blurring the line of reality and fantasy for these patients.”

According to the essay, there is a rise in nasal and facial asymmetrical procedures. In 2017 for example plastic surgeons have performed 17.5 million procedures. This is a 2 percent rise from the previous year and a 200 percent rise since 2000 according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The procedures include nose jobs or rhinoplasties, eye lid lifts, breast augmentation and liposuction.

A previous study in 2015 showed that teenage girls who used photo-editing apps more commonly are more likely to suffer from dissatisfaction with their appearance and overestimate their body weight and shape and are overly concerned about dieting compared to girls who use the filters less frequently. These young women who share more photos on social media and valued opinions of their friends more were more likely to suffer from eating disorders and body dysmorphia, researchers had found.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America around one person in 50 suffers from body dysmorphic disorder, who suffer from misperceptions regarding their bodies that can impair their daily lives significantly. These individuals may be depressed and may isolate themselves and remain unemployed. Many of these individuals suffer from obsessive compulsive disorders and may have suicidal thoughts.

According to the authors of this latest essay the solution is not plastic surgery but therapy. They add that psychological intervention and medication must be used to improve serotonin levels and correct these problems among youngsters.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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