As social media platforms like Snapchat, FaceTune, and Instagram add more and more filters to their repertoire, plastic surgeons are seeing a rise in younger and younger clients. According to The Independent, Millennials are getting plastic surgery to look like selfie filters. While most filters have unicorn horns or cat ears, these social platforms also have ones that “smooth skin, thin your face, and change your eye color.” This new technology has gone beyond the digital screen – psychologists have dubbed this obsession with looking like a filter “Snapchat dysmorphia.”
The term was coined earlier this year by cosmetic surgeon Dr. Tijion Esho. A study published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery Viewpoint discovered that the filters have caused people to develop the “underlying mental health condition,” since “they allow selfies to achieve a level of physical ‘perfection’ previously seen only in celebrity or beauty magazines.”
“A little adjusting on Facetune can smoothen out skin, and make teeth look whiter and eyes and lips bigger. A quick share on Instagram and the likes and comments start rolling in,” said the director of the Boston University Cosmetic and Laser Centre, Dr. Neelam Vashi.
Where people used to bring in photos of celebrities when they went in for plastic surgery, they are now showing surgeons their filtered selfies and asking how to achieve that polished look. They are looking for procedures that seeking out treatments that make them look slimmer, perfect their nose, or give them a more contoured cheekbone.
Standards of beauty are ever-changing. As they do, women whose appearance don’t align with the societal norm often suffer from self-esteem issues, which can lead to body dysmorphic disorder or BDD. BDD is defined as the “excessive preoccupation with a perceived flaw in appearance often characterized by people going to great – and at times unhealthy – lengths to hide their imperfections.” One in 50 suffer from BDD, but scientists note that that number grows higher every day as Millennials and younger generations are more influenced by what they find online.
Dr. Esho stated because we see more photos of ourselves online now more than ever, our propensity for self-criticism is higher. Though he says that it can be ok if a patient uses a filtered photo of themselves “as a reference point,” he believes it can become a danger when “becomes how the patient sees themselves, or the patient wants to look exactly like that image.”
He added that he no longer treats patients who seem obsessed with looking like their filtered photos.