Is social media body image prompting teens to have plastic surgery?

Leslie Hanson
August 10, 2018

Plastic surgeons are becoming increasingly concerned by teenagers who are seeking to achieve a "perfect" face, much like the one they can attain through airbrushed Snapchat filters.

Plastic surgery numbers are already up in the US, with new data released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons showing continued growth in cosmetic procedures, and the selfie phenomenon will continue to fuel its growth.

Snapchat dysmorphia is a play on a similar disorder: body dysmorphia, or body dysmorphic disorder.

Previously, people brought in celebrity photos to use as templates for their cosmetic surgeries but now, they are using apps to preview how they would look. A 2017 survey from the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery sound that 55 percent of surgeons report seeing patients who mention selfies as a reason for requesting surgery, compared to 42 percent in 2015.

People have done a lot of things in the quest for the flawless selfie, like angling their phone higher or finding the best light. And that can trigger a preoccupation with appearance that leads to risky efforts to hide perceived flaws, researchers suggest.

This is affecting the type of plastic surgery people choose.

Before the rise in the popularity of selfies, the most common complaint from people seeking rhinoplasty, commonly referred to as a nose job, was the hump of the dorsum of the nose.

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.

Altering your physical appearance may actually make things worse, because the underlying body dysmorphia at the root of those feelings could go unchecked. Instead, the Boston University researchers recommend the patients be treated with psychological interventions like therapy and medication.

"This can be especially harmful for teens and those with body dysmorphic disorder, and it is important for providers to understand the implications of social media on body image to better treat and counsel our patients", she said.

If you yearn for plastic surgery to make the real you resemble those enhanced photos of yourself in filtered selfies and apps like Snapchat, it's not a surgeon you need.

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