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

Summary: Instagram is getting rid of its plastic surgery-based filters. What’s the motivation behind this move? According to the social media giant, the motivation for the move had something to do with wanting to improve the well being of its users. It’s possible there’s some truth in that.

Why Did Instagram Get Rid of Plastic Surgery Filters?

Filters are one of the major benefits of using a social media app to post your picture. Instagram itself comes loaded with possible filters. So when you take your picture, you can make all kinds of alterations. These days, filters are incredibly sophisticated, doing everything from smoothing out your skin to making you appear to have the nose of a puppy.

But not all filters are great. Some filters can even lead to the development of body dysmorphic disorder, which can cause serious health problems down the road. That might explain why Instagram has decided to remove a group of plastic surgery filters from their service.

What Were Filters Removed?

The official reasoning for Instagram removing plastic surgery filters is focused on user well-being. Essentially, Instagram was concerned that the plastic surgery filters may do more harm than good.

There may be some basis of truth in that. The plastic surgery filters work by taking the existing image and adding a change to it. For example, a facelift filter may remove a wide range of lines and wrinkles. A tummy tuck filter may make the abdomen appear firmer and more athletic. And that might seem like a good thing at first.

But there can definitely start to be a negative impact over the long run. The message that’s reinforced–over and over again–is that your body would look better if you made a couple of (surgical) changes. And that can really start to alter the way one views one’s own body. (It won’t happen every time, of course–but it can happen).

Alternatives for Patients

So plastic surgery filters on your personal mobile device (in the form of social media) may not be a great thing, it turns out. But if you want to preview a cosmetic surgery or plastic surgery procedure, you do still have options. And those options are important because they provide valuable and needed context to any such preview.

Many surgeons will employ a “preview” of some kind for their patients. For example, there are several readily available filters and apps that can show possible results for procedures as diverse as rhinoplasty to breast augmentation.

But those preview results are typically shown in the surgeon’s office, during a consultation. Which means you’re also getting the personalized advice and education that a surgeon provides. The value of this added context cannot be understated. It’s an incredibly important part of the process, and can help avoid some of the body issues that come up with something like an Instagram filter.

What About Other Filters?

If plastic surgery filters are bad, shouldn’t other filters be removed too? Well, perhaps they will be–it’s tough to tell, and the future is difficult to predict. There are plenty of filters on social media that can contribute to the development of something like body dysmorphic disorder. The problem with plastic surgery filters is that they innately encourage plastic surgery.

And while plastic surgery is relatively safe, it is not completely devoid of risks. And that’s why it makes sense for social media apps to be a little more careful with filters that seem as though they promote or encourage something like plastic surgery.

For people that are still curious, there remain plenty of options out there. But one of the best options is the same as it’s ever been: consultation with your plastic surgeon. In that context, it certainly makes sense as to why Instagram got rid of plastic surgery filters. Although, one wonders what filters might be next.


About the Author: Dan Voltz has been writing about plastic and cosmetic surgery for over four years. He’s constantly in touch with surgeons to ensure he has the latest and most up to date information.

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