'Snapchat dysmorphia' is the beauty social media trend of 2018 that has doctors worried

By Sarah Parsons 6-Aug-2018

The rise of the mental health term is becoming a buzzword for plastic surgeons on both sides of the Atlantic

Celebrities regularly use playful filters on social media / via Instagram @parishilton, @badgirlriri

From low self esteem to a lack of human connection, doctors have been worrying about the relationship between social media and mental health for sometime.

But now scientists are raising awareness of ‘Snapchat dysmorphia’ – a term originally coined by celebrity cosmetics surgeon Dr Tijion Esho in April 2018 – to describe the phenomenon of consumers seeking surgery to look more like the filtered version of themselves.

According to a new study published by academics from the Boston Medical Center, thanks to photo-editing like Snapchat and Facetune, the level of physical 'perfection' previously seen only via celebrities or beauty magazines has now become the norm on social media.

"Filtered selfies can make people lose touch with reality, creating the expectation that we are supposed to look perfectly primped all the time," said Dr Neelam Vashi, director of the Ethnic Skin Center at BMC and Boston University School of Medicine.

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

BDD, or body dysmorphia, is closely related to obsessive-compulsive disorder, where a person is excessively preoccupied with a perceived flaw in appearance.

As well as going to lengths to hide the supposed imperfection, the person may engage in repetitive behaviours such as skin picking, visiting dermatologists or plastic surgeons to change their appearance.

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The disorder is said to affect 2% of the US population. Meanwhile, in 2017, the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery found that 55% of plastic surgeons report seeing patients who want to improve their appearance in selfies.