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is snapchat dysmorphia a real thing? Two women taking a selfie with a cell phone

Summary: It’s been in the news a lot lately, but is Snapchat dysmorphia a real thing? I mean, it’s real enough for the papers, but is it distinct from more typical body dysmorphia? Perhaps. After all, so-called Snapchat dysmorphia seems to be directly associated with the use of social media–especially with the use of filters in social media. Snapchat has become the defacto poster child for this, but it is by no means the only social media platform that contributes to the issue.

Is Snapchat Dysmorphia a Real Thing I Need to Worry About?

There’s been this phrase that’s come up in the news over the last couple of days, describing how Snapchat filters are changing the way people feel about their features. They’re calling it Snapchat dysmorphia. But is Snapchat Dysmorphia a real thing? It has that buzzword kind of quality where you almost immediately want to challenge the reality of the term.

To be sure, body dysmorphia is a very real issue. It affects predominantly women (though, not exclusively), and can have very real and damaging impacts on one’s health, both physical and mental.

But can this really be caused by Snapchat? That seems to be the consensus–though, it’s worth looking into this is causing issues with plastic surgeons and their patients. If nothing else, looking at Snapchat Dysmorphia can teach us a little bit about the dangers of body dysmorphia, as the two are intimately related.

Though, we should say from the outset that this is not medical advice–and if you suspect you have body dysmorphia of any kind or degree, you should seek help from a medical professional as soon as possible.

What is Snapchat Dysmorphia?

Put simply, Snapchat dysmorphia is an issue in which certain social media influences can begin to cause you to see your body differently. Usually, you begin to see your body in a much less flattering light. When it comes to body dysmorphia, you might see yourself as “fat” no matter how slender you body truly is.

The basic premise holds true with so-called Snapchat dysmorphia. The filters used in Snapchat can make your skin look smoother, your eyes look larger, your nose look smaller, and so on. The idea is that when you spend so much time altering your appearance to make it look “better,” you begin to devalue your actual appearance.

In other words, you begin to see yourself as ugly, but only because you are striving for a level of beauty that is, literally, unrealistic and that you only know of because of these filters.

Is Snapchat Dysmorphia Driving Plastic Surgery?

The relationship between body dysmorphia and plastic surgery has always been uncomfortably close, and that’s not going to change any time soon. Social media has thrown a kind of monkey wrench into that issue as well, as there’s no denying that social media does indeed have some kind of impact on plastic and cosmetic surgery.

There are some ways that surgeons attempt to discourage patients with body dysmorphia from undergoing surgery:

  • If a surgeon suspects a patient might be suffering from body dysmorphia of any kind, the surgeon may refer that patient to a counselor.
  • Surgeons will typically be quite transparent about realistic expectations.
  • Surgeons also work hard to ensure that patients have an accurate depiction of their own body; sometimes this is accomplished with consultations and the taking of pictures.

Ultimately, no surgeon wants to perform surgery on a patient who is not ready for it, so there are certainly some safeguards in place.

Social Media and Body Dysmorphia

There’s also no denying that social media likely exacerbates body dysmorphia. The problem is that social media isn’t really going anywhere. There are ways to insulate yourself from this type of body dysmorphia, to a degree, but they all take a concerted effort (effort, by the way, that is well worth it).

Ideally, every plastic surgery patient would have a very clear and accurate image of what they look like before undergoing surgery. This isn’t always possible, of course–humans are flawed at a lot of levels.

But that is why surgeons work very hard to make sure that patients understand what they’re getting into and what they can expect. Is Snapchat dysmorphia a real thing? Perhaps, though it’s likely not limited exclusively to Snapchat. The trick is to make sure that you’ve got the right reasons for undergoing your own plastic surgery procedure.

Finding the Right Procedure for You

Ultimately, plastic surgery is about finding the right procedure to make you feel more comfortable about yourself, whether that’s blepharoplasty, facelift, or a breast lift. If the patient feels more confident and sure of his/herself at the end of the day, that’s about the best victory you can ask for.

That’s much more likely if the patient goes into the process with realistic expectations (and especially if those expectations are reinforced throughout the process by the surgeon). If you have questions about Snapchat dysmorphia, talk to your surgeon about what procedure you’d like to undergo.

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