One of the defining aspects of Snapchat dysmorphia is the pursuit of unachievable “perfection.” Like general body dysmorphia, Snapchat dysmorphia is a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder characterized by an obsession with “flaws” in physical appearance. While a certain level of dissatisfaction with how you look is totally normal, says Vashi, people with clinical body dysmorphia are plagued by their nagging insecurities. For people already prone to these thoughts, selfie filters that offer a glimpse of “perfection” might trigger patients to come to her office looking for solutions that most surgeons are hesitant to provide.
“Sometimes a trigger can happen really early on — maybe it’s like someone says something to another person,” says Vashi. “I think social media could be kind of like that; it becomes a trigger for people to become very preoccupied with how they look.”
Despite wariness on the part of the surgeons, the patient demand for such procedures is increasing. According to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 55 percent of clinicians saw patients who “wanted to look better in their selfies” in 2017 — an uptick of 13 percent from the previous year. This same report called social media “a cultural force” with the power to change the plastic surgery industry.