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Is "Snapchat Dysmorphia" a Real Issue?
Kamleshun Ramphul , Stephanie G. Mejias
1. Department of Pediatrics, Shanghai Xin Hua Hospital Affiliated to Shanghai Jiao Tong University
School of Medicine, Shanghai, People's Republic of China 2. Department of Pediatrics, Robert Reid Cabral
Children's Hospital Affiliated to the University Iberoamericana Unibe School of Medicine
Corresponding author: Kamleshun Ramphul, email@example.com
Disclosures can be found in Additional Information at the end of the article
It was observed that in early 2018, several newspapers raised a concern about the negative
effects of social media applications, such as Snapchat and Instagram, on users related to the
choice of plastic surgeries. Several plastic surgeons have shared their experiences whereby they
encountered requests sounding similar to what a "filtered" Snapchat picture would look like,
with one plastic surgeon even having a patient who actually produced a "filtered" image. There
are several red flags to look out for in such patients, and proper management in those cases
should include counseling and not plastic surgery.
Categories: Dermatology, Plastic Surgery, Psychiatry
Keywords: body dysmorphic syndrome, snapchat, instagram
In early 2018, multiple newspaper outlets published several articles questioning the current
impact of social media applications, such as Snapchat and Instagram, related to the choice of
plastic surgeries. The term "Snapchat Dysmorphia" was also coined, and we cannot help wonder
how much these social applications are actually influencing the common man.
According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is classified along the obsessive-
compulsive Spectrum. Those suffering from BDD are preoccupied with at least one nonexistent
or slight defect in physical appearance. This can lead them to think about the defect for at least
one hour a day, therefore impacting their social, occupational, and other levels of functioning.
The individual also should have repetitive and compulsive behaviors due to concerns arising
from their appearances. This includes mirror checking and reassurance seeking among
others . Currently, one in 50 Americans suffers from BDD .
The two main applications in question included Snapchat and Instagram, both of which have
187-million and 600-million daily active users. These two applications provide filters that
allow users to change their skin tone, soften fine lines and wrinkles, alter the size of their eyes,
lips, and cheeks, and change various aspects of their physical appearance. Dr. Yagoda, a plastic
surgeon, told the Huffington Post that he had observed many of his clients describing their
desired changes, which corresponded to what the filters on these two applications could
provide . This claim was also supported by another plastic surgeon, Dr. Schulman. Renee
Engeln, Professor of Psychology at Northwestern University, has also pointed out that the
common man is losing perspectives on what he/she actually looks like due to these two social
media applications . The term "Snapchat Dysmorphia" was thus brought to life.
Editorial DOI: 10.7759/cureus.2263
How to cite this article
Ramphul K, Mejias S G (March 03, 2018) Is "Snapchat Dysmorphia" a Real Issue?. Cureus 10(3): e2263.
Another article published by The Independent reported a case whereby a plastic surgeon was
requested to make a patient exactly like one of her "filtered" pictures. Dr. Esho politely declined
and offered the patient some counseling help, which she eventually took. He also reported that
the patient felt better with the help she received and is now making great progress. Moreover,
he advised many physicians to look out for any red flags from patients who might have any
underlying signs of body dysmorphia . The outcomes of such plastic surgeries are usually
unrealistic. This latest trend among millennials has been evolving for some time, but it is
strange. Many factors may influence someone to opt for a surgical intervention to alter their
appearance, consequently making psychological support a great help for the concerned person.
While the term "Snapchat Dysmorphia" might be too early to be brought into play, the risk of
these patients turning to Snapchat and Instagram filters as a source of inspiration for their
desired plastic surgeries is a big issue. There are already some ongoing legal issues about the
use of Snapchat in the operating room by some plastic surgeons but none currently involving
any patients accusing Snapchat of giving them a false perception of themselves yet. The proper
code of ethics among plastic surgeons should be respected and an early detection of associated
symptoms in such patients might help provide them with the appropriate counseling and help
Conflicts of interest: In compliance with the ICMJE uniform disclosure form, all authors
declare the following: Payment/services info: All authors have declared that no financial
support was received from any organization for the submitted work. Financial relationships:
All authors have declared that they have no financial relationships at present or within the
previous three years with any organizations that might have an interest in the submitted work.
Other relationships: All authors have declared that there are no other relationships or
activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.
1. American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders .
Washington, D.C.; 2013. 10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596
2. Prevalence of BDD. (2018). Accessed: February 24, 2018:
3. ‘Snapchat dysmorphia’ points to a troubling new trend in plastic surgery . (2018). Accessed:
February 24, 2018: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/snapchat-
4. 'Snapchat dysmorphia' causing young people to seek plastic surgery. (2018). Accessed:
February 24, 2018: http://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/2018/02/22/snapchat-dysmorphia-
5. More people want surgery to look like a filtered version of themselves, rather than a celebrity,
cosmetic doctor says. (2018). Accessed: February 24, 2018:
2018 Ramphul et al. Cureus 10(3): e2263. DOI 10.7759/cureus.2263 2 of 2