People are increasingly going to see cosmetic doctors asking to look like filtered versions of themselves rather than celebrities, a leading cosmetic doctor claims.
Filters on social networks such as Snapchat and Instagram allow you to alter your looks for photos, for example by smoothing skin, altering face shape and making eyes look bigger.
And according to one doctor, filters have led to a growing number of women going to plastic surgeons asking for surgery to look like the filtered versions of themselves.
Dr Esho, cosmetic doctor at The Esho Clinic and star of E4’s Body Fixers, dubs the phenomenon “Snapchat dysmorphia.”
“Previously patients would come into clinics with pictures of celebrities or models they admired and wanted to look like,” he explains.
“But with the introduction of social platforms and filters over the last five years, more and more patients come into clinics with filtered versions of themselves as the goal they want to achieve.
Natalie* is one of Dr Esho’s clients: “I never was happy with taking photos but using filters made me feel like I looked good,” she said.
“The Snapchat camera shows you what you see in the mirror but adds a filter on your face and you can change everything. You face can become thinner, your lips get bigger and your eyes and lashes can get bigger. It’s great.”
She went to see Dr Esho with a picture of a filtered version of herself. Dr Esho, however, declined to treat Natalie but referred her for counselling and says she is making “great progress.”
“We have a stringent consultation process in place, which assesses the patient’s suitability for treatment and we never do treatment on the same day, allowing the patient to ‘cool off’ and really think about their choice,” Dr Esho explains.
“This is important as many can act on impulse. During the consultation it’s key to look for red flags which may indicate any underlying sign body dysmorphia where the patient’s view of themselves and the expected outcome of their treatment is completely unrealistic.
“Cases like Natalie should trigger warning signs for any ethical practitioner. Treating someone like this will start them on a journey where they will never be happy and psychological support is needed.”
Dr Esho believes there are many factors at play though.
“Today’s generation can’t escape ‘the Truman effect’ because from birth they are born into an age of social platforms where their feelings of self-worth can be based purely on the number of likes and followers that they have, which is linked to how good they look or how great these images are.
“These images are now readily accessible and judged, whereas before we had to see images via magazines or TV. We now see them daily via social platforms, making us more critical of ourselves.”
The cosmetic doctor says social media has amplified and accelerated the trend: “There is now a generation of both women and men who are more visually aware than ever before.”
Overall, fewer women are seeking out cosmetic procedures though.
The number of facelifts carried out on women in 2017 dropped by 44 per cent in comparison with the previous year, new figures from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) reveal.
According to the BAAPS 2017 audit, more than 28,000 cosmetic operations took place in 2017, which was eight per cent lower than 2016 at 30,750.
*Name has been changed
The Independent has contacted Snapchat and Instagram for comment but is yet to hear back.