As an experienced facial plastic surgeon at Carolina Facial Plastics, I’ve long grown accustomed to both teens and adults coming to my Charlotte office with photos of celebrities whose looks they’d like to emulate. These days, though, young women and men come armed already with what they think is the “best version of themselves”: a filtered, photoshopped, app’d-up SnapChat photo. They like the way they look in the photo so much that they want to change their real-life face to match the image. Neelam A. Vashi, MD, a dermatologist and author of “Selfies—Living in the Era of Filtered Photographs,” in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, even coined a new term to describe the phenomenon: SnapChat Dysmorphia.
What’s SnapChat dysmorphia, and do I have it?
SnapChat dysmorphia is the latest iteration of body dysmorphic disorder, a condition in which you exaggerate a perceived flaw in your appearance to the point where it compromises your quality of life. For instance, someone with body dysmorphia who’s at a normal, healthy weight may perceive themselves as being obese and may even endanger their health with constant dieting.
If you have SnapChat dysmorphia, you’re judging your appearance in regular selfies or in the mirror by comparing it with the doctored SnapChat or filtered image. Some children and teenagers actually identify more with the images on their phones than the images in the mirrors. To learn more about body dysmorphic disorder, visit womenshealth.gov
Why can’t I SnapChat my real face?
The study notes that filtered and doctored selfies and SnapChat photos can blur the line between fantasy and fantasy. Since you’re looking at a photo of “yourself,” you wonder why can’t look like that in real life.
However, the photos you take with a cell phone — particularly selfies — are already highly distorted. The lens on a cell phone is only about 30mm, but when we look at each other face-to-face, our eyes’ lens is equivalent to a 50mm camera lens. That’s why when you take a selfie by holding your phone 12 inches from your face, it enlarges your nose by 30 percent.
Easy fix on your phone: You just shave down your nose with a filter.
But if you want the same effect in real life, you can’t do it. If you cut your nose down by 30%, it would be drastically out of proportion with the rest of your face and you wouldn’t be able to breathe normally (think about the late pop star Michael Jackson). If you want better Pre-SnapChat selfies, better to get a new lens for your camera phone than to go through life-changing and irreversible surgery.
So what can I do?
When you come to Carolina Facial Plastics for plastic surgery or aesthetic consultation, I take the time to talk to you, look at your facial anatomy, and also look at the photos of yourself that you love, like, or dislike. We talk about your goals and how realistic they are.
My job is to turn the focus back onto their own unique faces, help them see what’s already beautiful and balanced in their faces, and then discuss ways in which they can enhance their features and become the best version of themselves.
While it’s easy to wipe your skin clear of freckles, blemishes, or wrinkles on SnapChat, you might need several laser skin or chemical peel treatments to achieve the same effect. And you still might not be satisfied, because different lights, different mirrors, and different cameras are going to distort the way you look to yourself, even after your skin is blemish- or freckle-free.
One of the important things that a consultation accomplishes is helping you appreciate your natural beauty and your unique attributes. By focusing on the parts of your face that should be enhanced — rather than obsessing over your perceived flaws — you’re more likely to be happy with your final result.
Take it slow….
While SnapChat fixes are instantaneous and reversible, the same isn’t true for plastic surgery or aesthetic procedures. Well-done enhancements take time and are usually permanent.
Rather than plunge straight into plastic surgery, I urge you to take it slow and try out other, less invasive therapies first and see how you respond to them. Here are a few ways you can enhance your beauty without erasing it:
“Filtering” your skin
If you have blemishes, rosacea, or fine lines and wrinkles, a number of noninvasive therapies can correct your skin tone, tighten your pores, and give you a healthier glow. I may recommend:
Most skin resurfacing techniques have minimal downtime. You have to be sure to avoid the sun, however, because your newly resurfaced skin is more susceptible to damaging UVA and UVB rays.
Nonsurgical “nose jobs”
Even though your selfies may make your nose look big, your nose might already be the perfect size for your face. However, if you have bumps or any asymmetry in your nose, these could make your nose look longer. I recommend:
Nonsurgical nose job with hyaluronic-acid dermal fillers
If your jaw is weak, building it up with collagen-stimulating and HA dermal fillers creates a stronger, more masculine profile. Using non-permanent fillers, I can recontour your face and create:
- Higher cheekbones
- More defined chin
- Stronger jaw
- More youthful temples
Dermal fillers only last about 6-18 months. The HA fillers can even be reversed with hyaluronidase if you decide you don’t like your new look.
Whether it’s still too soon for a facelift and neck lift but you want a more youthful appearance, or whether you’re just not ready to commit to surgery, I can design a lifting and firming procedure just for you. Some therapies that tighten the skin include:
You can enhance their effectiveness with other therapies, such as:
- Botox® and dermal fillers to smooth out wrinkles
- Dermal fillers such as Juvederm and Restylane to reshape and plump up lips
These less invasive, non-permanent therapies let you try out a new look so you can “see” for yourself if looking just a touch more like your favorite selfie makes you happier. If so, we might agree it’s time to make the change permanent with plastic surgery.
Schedule A Consultation With Charlotte’s Top Facial Plastic Surgeon and His Highly Skilled Team of Aesthetician, Nurse Practitioners, and Physician Assistants
To find out how you can become the best version of yourself without becoming a victim of SnapChat dysmorphia, call Carolina Facial Plastics today or set up an appointment online.