February 13, 2020

"Snapchat Dysmorphia": Selfie verses reality

Written by
Satya Sette
Instagram Link

With a quick swipe or simple tap on your touchscreen, you can remove unsightly blemishes, fix an imperfect nose, or even plump your lips to rival Kylie Jenner's. Heavily edited images like these have quickly become the norm on social media - the consequence of this is a collective change to the shared idea of what we consider “attractive”. When beauty standards are built on a foundation of enhanced images, self-esteem suffers, and insecurities arise.

The term “Snapchat Dysmorphia” was coined in a 2018 article published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery. Here, the authors elaborated on the harm of these filtered images: “The pervasiveness of these filtered images can take a toll on one’s self-esteem, make one feel inadequate for not looking a certain way in the real world, and may even act as a trigger and lead to body dysmorphic disorder.”

We can easily transform a selfie into a more attractive, symmetrical version of ourselves - but simply having a near-perfect looking online persona isn’t enough. Users are turning to Plastic Surgery in an attempt to make their virtual “look” a reality.

In this high-tech era, Plastic Surgery patients are no longer limited to bringing in photographs of models or celebrities. Instead, patients are showing up to their consultations with heavily edited or filtered selfies to demonstrate their ideal look; a software-enhanced version of themselves.

The authors in the JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery study found that 55% of all facial plastic surgeons have patients who have requested procedures to make them look better on social media.

The challenge for Plastic Surgeons, when presented with these requests, is to set boundaries and realistic expectations - and ultimately determine if the patient is fit for treatment. In some instances, the individual may not be mentally fit and may need additional psychiatric help for issues like body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), or a version of “Snapchat Dysmorphia”.

Plastic Surgeons are specially trained to evaluate their patients mentally as well as physically - they take great care in ensuring their patient is mentally fit for treatment. When a patient with Body Dysmorphic Disorder chooses to undergo a cosmetic procedure rather than treating their underlying diagnoses, they will more often than not be dissatisfied with the outcome - regardless of how ideal their results are or how talented their surgeon is.

Plastic Surgery is all about body positivity. The ability and freedom to alter your appearance to increase confidence is impowering. We want our patients to love themselves – before and after surgery. Snapchat Dysmorphia is all too prevalent these days, but this disordered thinking should not be confused with a decision to have a surgical procedure for yourself, if that decision is made with a healthy mindset and self-love, not in response to pressure or negativity caused by society’s influence or to improve online appearance.

We love the real you and so should you – you’re so much more than your filters!