'Snapchat dysmorphia' has social media users seeking plastic surgery

People want to look like their Snapchat-filtered selves, doctors say.

Bonnie Burton
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
Bonnie Burton
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Snapchat fans use filters for fun, but what happens when they want to look like their distorted selves in real life?


Everyone seems to look perfect on Snapchat. That's thanks to a vast array of filters and editing options that can change our real-life appearance in an instant. 

But obsessively tinkering with how we look on social media can have damaging effects. Doctors have coined a new term, "Snapchat dysmorphia," to describe the psychology of patients who seek cosmetic surgery procedures to look more like the filtered versions of themselves. 

While no one is asking for surgically attached Pokemon Pikachu ears, patients are requesting fuller lips, bigger eyes and thinner noses to look more like the altered versions of themselves that appear on apps like Snapchat and Facetune, according to a new article published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.   

"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," say the piece written by doctors from Boston University School of Medicine's Department of Dermatology

"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," the piece adds. Those who suffer from BDD obsess over their perceived physical flaws and can experience extreme anxiety as a result. 

Help for those with BDD might include cognitive behavioral therapy, which teaches how to replace negative thought patterns with positive ones. It could also involve prescription medication like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, which are used to treat anxiety disorders.

This isn't the first warning about the connection between social media and plastic surgery. Selfies act as "portable funhouse mirrors" that distort noses, a study from earlier this year revealed. And more people are going under the knife because of it.

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