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

Summary: The battle between social media filters and plastic surgery practices seems to be heating up. And there’s good reason. Filters available on social media platforms can be useful tools, in that they can help you envision your desired final transformation. But there can also be dangers associated with social media filters.

What’s Happening Between Social Media Filters and Plastic Surgery Clinics

The battle between social media filters and plastic surgery procedures has been well reported in recent months. Though, it’s not really a battle. It’s more like a trend. Filters in apps such as Instagram and Snapchat are giving plastic surgeons a run for their money–not necessarily in terms of replacing plastic surgery, but in that they are replacing plastic surgery advice.

Here’s what I mean by that. Plastic surgery patients are getting their ideas for various procedures from their social media apps–not necessarily from popular culture or from their surgeons. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Though, it is often reported that way in the media. And, to be sure, there are some negatives when it comes to these social media filters (body dysmorphia being the most potent of these drawbacks). But there is some advantage here, too. Knowing how to use your snap chat filter to help plan your plastic surgery can help you, ultimately, generate better results. But that should only be the beginning of your conversation. You’re definitely going to want to consult with your plastic surgeon about all of your decisions (and this article is in no way intended to replace advice from your surgeon). So how does this battle between social media filters and plastic surgery work? Maybe the better question is: how can we use this to our advantage?

Keep Realistic Results in Mind

The first step in making these plastic surgery filters useful instead of antagonistic is to make sure that we’re keeping them realistic. Obviously, plastic surgeons are not going to be able to give you puppy dog ears or noses or anything like that. This seems like it goes without saying. So what we mean when we talk about the “realistic,” I’m more so referring to the exaggeration of your features.

Plastic surgery can only do so much. Each and every procedure has boundaries it must work within in order to maintain results that look natural and which are, ultimately, effective. That’s actually kind of a good thing, even though it doesn’t seem like it. These limits help make plastic surgery work as well as it does.

Because filters exist only over images, they can sometimes help create unrealistic expectations about what plastic surgery can accomplish (or what you might look like with, for example, larger eyes). So it’s definitely important to keep in mind what realistic results look like when it comes to your plastic surgery procedure. Or, to put it another way, it’s important to remember just how far outside the boundaries of reality social media filters can distort your image. And your view of yourself.

Use as Inspiration Only

Using your social media filter as inspiration is not necessarily a bad thing. In a way, social media filters have kind of replaced celebrities in that regard. Instead of asking for Angelina Jolie’s lips, you ask your surgeon for those from your Instagram selfie filter.

And that kind of makes sense. It’s a way to keep your desired transformation more centered around yourself, and when it comes to plastic surgery that’s a pretty good thing. So when it comes to these social media filters, most plastic surgeons recommend that you use them in the same way you would Angelina Jolie’s lips: for inspiration only.

Be Aware of the Dangers

But there are some inherent dangers in this, and it’s important to be aware of them. Selfies are much more intimate and immediate than celebrity photos. If Angelina Jolie has great lips, that doesn’t really affect you. But if you start to feel as though you don’t have great lips, that can start to get you down.

In some ways, then, these social media filters can be much more insidious than other forms of media. Especially because it’s all about you and the way you look. And, suddenly you’re looking at yourself and your body all the time. It’s a feeling that can corrode your confidence instead of boosting it, and that feeling is only exacerbated by social media filters. So there’s definitely a way in which social media filters and body dysmorphia can combine to make these apps more dangerous than they otherwise might be.

Communication With Your Surgeon

That’s why robust and thoughtful communication with your surgeon is essential when you’re thinking about plastic surgery—or even thinking about what transformations to your body or face might be worthwhile endeavors. The more you communicate with your surgeon, the better more realistic your expectations will be.


About the Author: Dan Voltz has been writing about cosmetic and plastic surgery for over four years. This article was written in conjunction with the staff at Ogilvie Plastic Surgery, a Chicago area plastic surgery clinic.

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