Celebrities used to be the main influence over plastic surgery trends, now it’s selfies. More and more people are approaching plastic surgeons for facial feature changes in order to look like the filtered version of themselves that they post on social media. It’s not wrong to want to refine your features or look younger to be a “better you,” but social media and photo editing apps are encouraging people to strive for unattainable beauty standards and it’s affecting their emotional wellbeing.
There is new researching confirming that social media is leading to an increase in Body Dysmorphic Disorders. BDD is a mental condition in which someone obsesses about their appearance in such a negative way that is causes emotional distress and interrupts their daily life. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, this affects 1 in 50 people and is often combined with other anxieties, such as depression.
Photo editing apps like Facetune and Snapchat can smooth skin, slim and straighten the nose, enlarge eyes and plump lips. Increased usage is leading social media consumers to prefer their heavily filtered appearances to their reality. This is a strong enough preference to lead them into the plastic surgeons office.
Boston University dermatology professors confirmed that 55 percent of plastic surgeons reported that their patients were seeking alterations to their physical appearance to improve their selfies, according to an essay in the JAMA bimonthly peer reviewed Facial Plastic Surgery medical periodical. The prevalence of patients seeking surgery in order to imitate their filtered selfies has been called ‘Snapchat dysmorphia.’
This alarming trend is even more prevalent among young people who use these editing apps and share those augmented pictures of themselves the most often. They struggle to align their fantasy self with reality, viewing plastic surgery as the solution. This striving for approval based on an augmented appearance is not only unhealthy emotionally, but physically unachievable.
I love helping people with refining their features to be satisfied with how they look, however this should not ultimately be where anyone’s self value comes from. Everyone has imperfections and the edited reality of the media world doesn’t change this. An unhealthy obsession with changing our appearance to align with the edited version of ourselves warrants some professional therapeutic help. Yes, the results from plastic surgery can be a confidence boost, but if you have “snapchat dysmorphia,” a physical fix is a BandAid to an emotional issue that should also be addressed. Our goal should be to look and feel great physically and emotionally.
Steven Davison, M.D.
Triple Board Certified Cosmetic Surgeon