Image: Getty

Plastic surgeons have found clients are bringing in photos of their own faces as inspiration for their cosmetic work, according to a deep dive into the phenomenon by the Guardian, published Wednesday. The relationship between selfie culture and plastic surgery and the rise of “Snapchat dysmorphia” has been previously reported on—and physicians themselves have tried to educate the public on why selfies are not an accurate representation of reality—but now it also seems like photo filters (the ones that give you perfectly rosy cheeks, bug eyes, or dog ears and so on) can accentuate body dysmorphia.

Dr. Tijion Esho—who came up with the term “Snapchat dysmorphia,” according to the Guardian—points out that some of the things clients, whose selfies may be run through an Instagram or Snapchat filter to make their eyes look bigger or lips look poutier, are asking for is physically impossible:

While some used their selfies – typically edited with Snapchat or the airbrushing app Facetune – as a guide, others would say, “‘I want to actually look like this’, with the large eyes and the pixel-perfect skin,” says Esho. “And that’s an unrealistic, unattainable thing.”

Advertisement

Another physician, Dr. Wassim Taktouk, agreed that pore-zapping, face-slimming technology is creating literally unattainable beauty standards—no one’s face really looks like that:

“The first thing that any of these filters do is give you a beautiful complexion,” says Taktouk. “Your naso-labial [laugh] lines, from the nose to mouth, aren’t existent – but that’s not a human face. No one doesn’t have those. You can see them in children.” Clients still request their removal, and of “the tear trough” – the groove down from the inner corners of the eyes. “People wanting bigger eyes is another one – it’s just not possible.”

Taktouk has also found that clients are finding him through Instagram, which makes sense; if falling through a rabbit hole of your Explore page or thumbing through your own catalog of selfies as you decide which one to post leads you think about getting work done, then you might just search for plastic surgeons right then and there on Instagram. But this is just part of the larger problem of time spend on Instagram warping users’ ideas of how their face can and should look like. Here’s a young woman named Anika who brought in her altered selfie to Taktouk’s office:

The process is as easy as [going to a plastic surgeon’s Instagram and] “click-click-click, look at 10 bits of his work in the space of a minute, wow, let’s contact him”, says Anika. At the age of 20, she turned up at Taktouk’s clinic with photos of noses he had done and a video of herself with a Snapchat filter. “You know the one that kind of makes your face look like an alien’s? I was like, ‘This looks great – my nose looks so much smaller.’ Dr Taktouk was like: ‘This is not what is going to happen with filler.’” She laughs. “He told me to come back with my mum.”

Advertisement

Taktouk says he only sees clients who are past their early 20s, which is probably a good rule of thumb for all cosmetic plastic surgeons.

Was life before the invention of smartphones and the front-facing camera easier or did they just hasten our narcissistic tendencies? Is everything fine, or is it mildly bad, in a kind of ordinary and tolerable way? Unclear! Read the entire report here.