By Angela Bekiaris
Choose a filter, look straight into the camera and…snap! Wow, you look flawless! Now, post it – you know you want to! Before you do, think of all the likes you’ve hooked and you’re not able to stop Snapchatting, Instagramming or posting the perfect selfies!
Men and women all over the world have been suffering from what has been dubbed body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) for years – a mental disorder where one is obsessed over perceived defects or flaws in appearance. These flaws are either minor, or don’t exist at all; but the age of multimedia messaging has upped the victim count.
Try and recall the last time you posted a pic of yourself on social media that didn’t have a filter? When last did you feel confident enough to show the real you? Sadly, this is becoming a new trend – and a problem that doctors fear are affecting youngsters more than we think. “Selfie dysmorphia is a real thing”, says local aesthetic doctor Dr Nicole Kanaris. “We have seen a definite rise in patients requesting a variety of different non-surgical treatments by giving their filtered selfie as an example. The influx is most definitely younger patients seeking enhancements so they are able to look like their best selfie. They want to look flawless, and these requests are often unattainable and unrealistic.”
Dr Kanaris adds, “Most frequently asked areas to be treated are the eyes. Due to selfies and lighting there is often an apparent under eye volume loss and darkness. This area can be treated with fillers and PRP. Other requests include skin with absolutely zero imperfections, bigger lips, more prominent jawlines, higher and more defined cheekbones as well as arched eyebrows”.
London-based cosmetic surgeon Dr Tijion Esho has echoed this, reporting an alarming rise in cases of ‘Selfie dysmorphia’. While it’s not a medical term yet, Esho coined the phrase after seeing the rise in people asking him to perform procedures that make them look just like their filtered images. Yes, you know all about this – the blue eyes, no acne, and just flawless skin in those snaps you’ve been taking every weekend. And your five-year-old daughter is probably already obsessed too, right?
You’re not alone. While you might not have gone so far as visiting a plastic surgeon (yet!) you do love the way these altered pictures make you look, as well as the attention you get from all those ‘likes’ on social media. Experts say it’s all just leading you down dangerous road, and you could be just as ill as those suffering from BDD. According to Dr Esho, the industry has a responsibility to stop dubious practitioners. Go back 20 years – you heard of a facelift or two. Ten years ago you started hearing more about Botox and fillers. Now 2018 is all about nip this, tuck that and inject, well everything else. Esho urges doctors to stop saying yes to everyone walking through the door. “Young people, particularly between 18-25 years, have stopped offering celebrity photos. Instead, they will bring in filtered versions of themselves”, he says adding, “They are using apps to make their nose look straighter, skin looking better, making lips appear larger, and jawlines tighter”.
According to a study published 2 August in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery Viewpoint, image-editing apps across social media platforms have indeed increased and sparked an urge in patients looking to emulate the physical perfection the filters afford. While a little plastic surgery, when needed, isn’t a bad thing, Esho does feel that there needs to be some control, explaining that doctors are taking on patients who want to look just like their filtered selfie versions and this is not healthy at all. “They’re judging themselves by a standard that is unrealistic and it’s impossible to have a jawline and lips like that”.