Yes, you read that correctly. Teens are really trying to look like Snapchat filters in real life by utilizing cosmetic surgery. No don’t worry, they’re not trying to look like a dog face. In the past, patients would bring in a photo of a celebrity they wanted to look like; now they’re bringing in a photo of themselves with a filter applied to it. Dr. Neelam Vashi, the director of the Ethnic Skin Center at Boston Medical Center, has come up with the term, “Snapchat dysmorphia” to explain the new phenomenon.

What is Snapchat dysmorphia?

A study that was published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery Viewpoint discovered apps such as Snapchat and photo-editing Facetune are the root of this new trend. They allow selfies taken by the average person to attain a physical “perfection” that was only once achievable if you were featured in a celebrity or beauty magazine.

According to the study, body dysmorphic disorder is more than an insecurity or a lack of confidence. It’s an excessive preoccupation with a perceived flaw in appearance, classified on the obsessive-compulsive spectrum. Those with BDD often go to great lengths to hide their imperfections, engage in repetitive behaviours like skin picking or grooming and may visit dermatologists or plastic surgeons frequently, hoping to change their appearance.

The American Medical Academy of Facial and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery says 55 percent of clinicians saw patients who “wanted to look better in their selfies” in 2017. That’s a 13 percent increase from the year before.

“People bring in photos of themselves at certain angles or with certain kinds of lighting,” Dr. Neelam Vashi told Inverse. “I just see a lot of images that are just really unrealistic, and it sets up unrealistic expectations for patients because they’re trying to look like a fantasized version of themselves.”

“Sometimes a trigger can happen really early on — maybe it’s like someone says something to another person,” said Vashi. “I think social media could be kind of like that; it becomes a trigger for people to become very preoccupied with how they look.”

What procedures are they looking for?

Vashi has seen a change in the procedures commonly asked for; rhinoplasty was once the trend—it’s a nose job where the hump on the bridge of some noses is shaved down. She has noticed that more people are asking to look like Snapchat filters, the butterfly filter or the flower crown filter specifically.

In these filters, lip size or eye size are increased, symmetry, and the way the proportions of the face are organized. “People have asked me to reshape their nose, or maybe give them fuller lips. But it’s usually asymmetry that they want to be corrected,” she says.

Mark Shriver, Ph.D., an anthropologist at Pennsylvania State University who has been studying facial symmetry for years using 3D photographs, has found that people tend to see symmetrical faces as more attractive. “In the extreme, asymmetrical faces are indicative of some sort of trauma,” he told Inverse. “The evolutionary psychology argument is that there might be some sort of selective pressure toward symmetry.”

There’s nothing wrong with an asymmetric face, but because symmetric faces are seen as most attractive, people will seek out expensive procedures. It’s important to note that Snapchat doesn’t make asymmetric faces more symmetric. The filters decrease the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and blemishes by smoothing and brightening the underlying tissue, lowering the appearance of asymmetry in some faces.

We’re always judging ourselves

It’s not uncommon for a person to judge themselves when they look in the mirror. Unfortunately, with the addition of these filters, it has allowed for us to be more critical of ourselves.

“Snapchat and Instagram certainly have the potential to affect the way people view their own bodies,” Kaylee Kruzan, a Ph.D. candidate who works in at Cornell’s Social Media Lab told Inverse. “Social media platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook constrain users to see their bodies from a third person or observer’s perspective. This can lead to body objectification, which we know is linked to poor mental health and well-being.”

“There has been some work suggesting that with social media-induced plastic surgery, people come to value, and relate to, the idealized images they create on social media over their actual felt body, and strive to attain ‘ideal’ standards through body modification,” Kruzan added.

With Snapchat and other apps continuously pumping out new filters, Vashi doesn’t see Snapchat dysmorphia going away anytime soon.

“It’s definitely on the rise,” Vashi says. “Plastic surgeons will be dealing with this for years to come.”

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash