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Snapchat Dysmorphia – Article by Dr. Meaghan Noud

Snapchat Dysmorphia: How social media beauty standards have transformed the aesthetic patient’s expectations

By Dr. Meaghan Noud

We have always lived in a world with ever-evolving standards of beauty. But in today’s world with filtered selfies and the popularity of image-based social media, photoshop is in everyone’s arsenal, bringing the aesthetic “bar” to a whole new level and to a whole new population. What’s more, is that social media shifts the critical eye inward. Instead of merely judging others, the self-reflective technology asks us to judge ourselves.

Some photo-editing technology is obviously designed for frivolous fun and a make-believe style of enjoyment.  A few swipes on Snapchat can give your selfie puppy ears or a flower crown. However other apps, such as Facetune, can be used to achieve a more subtle, yet still very hypothetical improvement to your image such smoothed out skin, minimized  nose, whiter teach and big/bright eyes and lips. Mere minutes after a quick share on Instagram, and the likes and comments start rolling in. These filters and edits have become the norm, altering people’s perception of beauty worldwide. Moreover, the generation that uses these apps the most was 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 directly related to and dependent upon how good they look and how great the images are.

But haven’t we always idealized photoshopped images? Only a few decades ago, it was exclusively the celebrities and models that were made to look perfect in images or advertisements. The general pubic was left to idealize this standard of beauty.  However, presumably the public knew about the editing and photoshopping and alterations done to achieve the flawless look seen on TV or ads. Today, with social media and apps like Snapchat and Facetune, a similar level of perfection is accessible to, and therefore expected of everyone.  In today’s world, we are not only comparing ourselves to unachievable beauty standards of celebrities, but suddenly we are comparing ourselves to a friend, classmate, coworker, or even an augmented and heavily edited version of ourselves on our phone apps.

The pervasiveness of these filtered images can take a toll on one’s self esteem, make one feel inadequate for not looking a certain way in the real world, and may even lead to body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), which is a clinical disorder characterized by an excessive pre-occupation with a perceived flaw in appearance. Ironically, at the same time that studies have discovered that individuals with a dysmorphic body image may seek out social media as a means of validating their attractiveness, studies have also found that individuals with higher levels of social media engagement have a higher level of body dissatisfaction.

So what does all of this mean for cosmetic surgeons when consulting with patients in this era? It means that patients more than ever are demanding quick, easy and permanent beauty solutions in real life, just as they expect immediate improvement through editing their image on their phones. Patients are also seeking surgery and treatments hoping to look better in selfies and social media. Plastic surgeons first identified this trend in the 2017 Annual American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) survey. Current data show that 55% of surgeons report seeing patients who request surgery to improve their appearance in selfies, up from 42% in 2015. The survey also noted an increase in the number of patients sharing their surgical process and results on social media.    In addition, excessive scrutiny of selfies is also changing the presenting concerns of patients. Prior to the popularity of selfies, the most common complaint from those seeking rhinoplasty was the hump of the dorsum of the nose. Today, nasal and facial asymmetry is the more common presenting concern.

A new phenomenon, dubbed “Snapchat dysmorphia,” has patients seeking out cosmetic surgery to look like filtered versions of themselves with fuller lips, bigger eyes, or a thinner nose. This is an alarming trend  for surgeons because those filtered selfies often present an unattainable look of a fantasized version of the patient. This sets the patient up for disappointment after treatment due to an unrealistic expectation to begin with. In this way, it is concerning that these social media apps are are making us lose touch with reality because we expect to look perfectly primped and filtered in real life as well. Ultimately, it is the physician’s responsibly to understand the implications of social media on body image and self-esteem when counseling patients on expectations prior to any treatment intervention.


Rajanala S, Maymone MBC, Vashi NA. Selfies—Living in the Era of Filtered Photographs. JAMA Facial Plast Surg. Published online August 02, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamafacial.2018.0486

McLean  SA, Paxton  SJ, Wertheim  EH, Masters  J.  Photoshopping the selfie: self photo editing and photo investment are associated with body dissatisfaction in adolescent girls.  Int J Eat Disord. 2015;48(8):1132-1140.

American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 2018 Annual Survey Statistics. Published January 29, 2018. Accessed March 6, 2018.

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Dr. Meaghan Noud – Plastic Surgeon San Francisco

Dr. Meaghan Noud is a board certified Otolaryngologist - Head and Neck Surgeon and Board Eligible Facial Plastic, Reconstructive Surgeon

Dr. Meaghan Noud

Dr. Meaghan Noud is a board certified Otolaryngologist - Head and Neck Surgeon and Board Eligible Facial Plastic, Reconstructive Surgeon with a medical degree from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.  Dr. Noud grew up in Northern California and received a bachelors degree in Animal Physiology and Neuroscience from the University of California San Diego (UCSD), where she played 4 years of intercollegiate basketball for the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA). After earning her undergraduate degree, Dr Noud excelled in medical school at UCLA in the College of Applied Anatomy. Upon graduation, Dr Noud accepted a residency position at the nationally top-ranked, five year surgical training program in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Dr. Noud continued her academic success in residency and was accepted into one of the most coveted fellowships in the country for Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at University of California, Davis. At UC Davis, Dr. Noud had the fortune of training under the world-renowned and former president of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Dr. Jonathan Sykes. During her medical school, residency and fellowship years, Dr. Noud was heavily involved in various academic, research, clinical, operative, and teaching endeavors. Dr. Noud has an extensive operative experience and has done over 3,000 surgical procedures in the Head, Face and Neck, and has taught countless medical students and resident physicians to perform aesthetic and reconstructive surgical procedures.

Throughout her career, Dr. Noud has made an effort to surround herself with the very best mentors and peers, in order to develop and maintain a tradition of providing the very best care to her patients. She continues this tradition of excellence in San Francisco at the SF Institute for Aesthetic and Regenerative Medicine.

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Dr. Susan Lin

Specializing in women’s health, aesthetics and anti-aging medicine.

Dr. Susan Lin MD

Susan Lin, M.D. is an OBGYN, practicing in women's health in the bay area for over 20 years. Dr. Susan Lin graduated from Boston University School Six Year Medical Program with an NIH Cancer Research Fellowship. She completed her postdoctoral training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Kaiser Permanente Oakland, Felix Rutledge Oncology Fellowship at MD Anderson Cancer Center and Galloway Fellowship in Gynecologic Oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Dr. Susan Lin is a member of American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine, American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, Expert Reviewer for Medical Board of California and served as Assistant Clinical Professor of OB/GYN for UCSF School of Medicine.

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Dr. Craig R. Oser

Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery • General Surgery

Dr. Craig R. Oser DO, FACOS

Education and Formal Training

Henry Ford Hospital
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery,
Chief Resident

Henry Ford Hospital
General Surgery, Chief Surgical Resident

Medical School
Philadelphia School of Osteopathic Medicine
Doctor of Osteopathy

Board Certification
Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
General Surgery

Social Media

Snapchat - realskindr

Experience and Teaching Positions

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon
Dr. Craig Oser, LLC

Department of Surgery Chairman
Weirton Medical Center

Clinical Instructor
West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine

Associate Clinical Instructor
Michigan State University

Reconstructive Surgery
Ear Reshaping / Facial Implants / Breast Reconstruction
Breast Reduction / Breast Lift / Inverted Nipple
Carpal Tunnel / Trigger Finger / Skin Graft and more...

Cosmetic Surgery
Face Lift / Neck Lift / Eyelid Surgery / Nasal Surgery
Brow Lift / Arm Lift / Breast Augmentation / Tummy Tuck
Liposuction / Sclerotherapy / Thigh Lift and more...

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Dr. James Gardner

He has also performed over 1000 cosmetic laser procedures, and many thousands of BOTOX® and cosmetic filler injections.

Introducing Dr. Gardner

Dr. Gardner was at UCLA School of Medicine in the 1980’s when minimally-invasive cosmetic procedures were first being developed in the Department of Dermatology. As a medical student, and later as a research associate in dermatology, he studied skin surgery and hair transplant procedures under nationally renowned cosmetic surgeons Ronald Moy, MD and Richard Bennett, MD. Dr. Gardner holds multiple certifications in cosmetic laser surgery and rejuvenation techniques, as well as BOTOX™, Restylane®, Juvaderm®, Radiesse®, and Smartlipo™ procedures. He has trained under nationally and internationally acclaimed plastic and cosmetic surgeons Dr. Steven Dayan (Chicago), Dr. Peter Davis (Menlo Park), Dr. Christine Lee (Walnut Creek), Dr. Robert Keller (Monterey) and Dr. Howard Ellis (Kansas City). He teaches laser safety and surgical techniques as a consultant, and is a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgeons and the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery. Dr. Gardner has performed over 3,000 cosmetic surgical excisions of skin cancers, and many more surgical procedures on benign lesions of the face and body. He has also performed over 1000 cosmetic laser procedures, and many thousands of BOTOX® and cosmetic filler injections.

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