Snapchat Dysmorphia Alert: Doctors Concerned About Patients Getting Plastic Surgery Based On Snapchat Filters


People nowadays are getting plastic surgery based on their favorite social media filters. Doctors from Boston University School of Medicine write about an emerging phenomena called Snapchat dysmorphia.

Is this the new way that social media is affecting mental health?

Filtered Photographs

Today, apps such as Snapchat give members of the public a chance to change their appearance at the push of a button, whether one chooses to have a dog ears, a flower crown, or smoother skin. While this is just plain fun to many, the rise of such accessible photo editing technology also gave way to a new phenomenon called Snapchat dysmorphia.

According to a paper published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, more and more people nowadays get plastic surgeries in order to look rather like their filtered versions, with many wanting to have features such as bigger eyes, fuller lips, and thinner noses.

While such procedures are not really rare, the authors note that it is the prevalence and easy access to photo editing and filters that feed the people’s desires to change their appearance. For instance, in the past, when photo editing was not as readily available, people refer to celebrities and models for beauty inspiration, but now that even coworkers, classmates, and relatives get to alter their appearance at the click of a button, it brings about feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem in some and may trigger body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).

Snapchat Dysmorphia

The phenomenon is now being referred to as Snapchat dysmorphia because of its link to social media influences. It is based on BDD, which is marked by an excessive preoccupation with a perceived “flaw” in physical appearance and the persistent need to change the said flaw. Often, people with this disorder visit dermatologists and plastic surgeons in order to change their appearance.

Now, with the widespread use of photo editing and social media apps, people have started changing the way they see themselves. In fact, the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery reported that about 55 percent of people who go to plastic surgeons do so because they want to look better in selfies.

Social Media And Mental Health

More worrying, however, is how such a phenomenon is affecting the mental health of many users. In a recent study, it was found that the adolescent girls who manipulated their photographs had higher levels of concern with their bodies and tend to overestimate their body weight and shape. The same study also revealed that those with a dysmorphic image of their bodies tend to use social media as a means of self-validation, and that those who are actively trying to present a specific image of themselves in social media tend to have a higher level of body dissatisfaction.

“These apps allow one to alter his or her appearance in an instant and conform to an unrealistic and often unattainable standard of beauty,” the doctors note, also stating that such apps may place pressure on people to look in a certain way and may make people lose touch with reality because of the idea that people have to look perfect and filtered in reality as well.

Earlier this year, another paper also analyzed the issue of Snapchat dysmorphia, and authors concluded that plastic surgeons now need to be on the lookout for such patients and to know when to advise them to seek counseling instead of plastic surgery.

Snapchat has not commented on the matter, but representatives for Facetune argue that their app is actually breaking the illusion of body ideals since everyone is using it. Hence, it “levels the playing field.”

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