Selfies, filters may lead to body disorders

Plastic surgery helps people look like their Snapchat selfies

‘Snapchat dysmorphia’ fuels insane selfie surgery requests

The ability to make picture-perfect images is no longer reserved for models and celebrities.

Current beauty standards are undermining the self-esteem of millions of people globally. But the development of an obsession over these supposed flaws in our appearance is known as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). And a 2015 study of adolescent girls found that those who regularly shared and edited photos on social media had higher levels of body dissatisfaction than those who did not.

Their new study was published in the journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery on August 2.

A person may have BDD if they worry too much about at least one perceived flaw in their physical appearance.

People with BDD may spend a lot of time comparing their looks with others', looking in or avoiding mirrors and going to great lengths to hide perceived flaws. Though he says that it can be ok if a patient uses a filtered photo of themselves "as a reference point", he believes it can become a danger when "becomes how the patient sees themselves, or the patient wants to look exactly like that image". They also encourage clinicians to tread lightly by approaching the patient with empathy, not judgment.

A new phenomenon called "Snapchat dysmorphia" is driving people to seek plastic surgery based on what they look like with Snapchat filters. It is classified on the obsessive-compulsive spectrum.

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It involves repetitive behaviors like skin picking, and visiting dermatologists or plastic surgeons hoping to change their appearance.

But the technology may have a damaging impact, as one of the cited studies showed how female teenagers manipulated their online photos when more concerned with their body appearance. "A quick share on Instagram and the likes and comments start rolling in", said the director of the Boston University Cosmetic and Laser Centre, Dr. Neelam Vashi.

The authors of the report advise against people with BDD seeking plastic surgery, claiming it may actually worsen rather than alleviate the condition.

Dr Vashi and her team recommend psychological interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy and management of the disorder in an empathetic and non-judgmental way.

"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 ideal and filtered in reality as well.

"This can be especially harmful for teens and those with BDD, 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.

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