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Plastic Surgery Filters: Fueling Desire for Cosmetic Surgery

These days it’s almost shocking to find a photo of an influencer or a celebrity without a filter. There was a time when plastic surgery filters weren’t the norm. However, soon enough, they became a part of the whole social media experience. Almost everyone had to reflect an image of themselves where they looked absolutely flawless. And so, every other picture that we saw of someone on social media had some sort of filter on it. 

And these plastic surgery filters can change the way you look in a bunch of ways. It can automatically apply makeup to your face, change the shape and colour of your teeth, smooth out the skin, and reshape your facial features. Its use is becoming more and more common among young adults. 

It’s also among these youngsters that the demand for plastic surgery is on the rise. According to a survey by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), in 2020, around 230,000 teens (aged 13-19) underwent cosmetic procedures. Among 20-19-year-olds, the total number of cosmetic procedures was 768,000.

Of all the 15.6 million procedures that were done that year, 92% of the patients were females. So, the question is, does the use of filters affect the self-image of people and make them want to undergo plastic surgery? Read on to find out.  

Are Photo Filters Influencing More People To Get Plastic Surgery and Cosmetic Procedures?

The short answer is maybe. There are two ways in which plastic surgery filters may be contributing to the increasing demand for plastic surgery. These are as follows: 

  • People who spend more time on social media and frequently use these filters become dissatisfied with the way they actually look. 
  • People who don’t even use the filters feel that the filtered and edited images of people on social media are how they actually look. Consequently, they feel unhappy with the way they look.

More than a few studies have found that social media makes people feel unhappy with their appearance. But it wasn’t clear if that led to a desire for plastic surgery or if that desire prompted them to act and get the surgery. 

However, a study published in the JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery in 2019 found that the “acceptance” of plastic surgery was increasing among adults who used Tinder, Snapchat and Instagram. People who used the photo-editing app VSCO also had a greater desire for cosmetic surgery. 

Another study published in The American Journal of Cosmetic Surgery in 2021 also found that the use of Instagram filters made people want to get plastic surgery to look like “that image of themselves.” 

Is It Just The Desire to Get Plastic Surgery, or Do They Really Get It?

It’s been established that plastic surgery filters certainly act as a motivator. It may not be the only one, though.

One study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal in 2021 found that of the 70 patients who had cosmetic surgery, for almost 60% of them, face-editing apps played a part in their final decision to get the surgery.

So, it’s safe to say that these plastic surgery filters and photo editing apps play a pretty big role in the decision to get plastic surgery, especially among young women. 

There’s another trend that was reported in another JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery study in 2018: More and more people were bringing in edited images of themselves to their plastic surgeons, showing them that this is how I want my face to look like.

In the past, people would refer to pictures of celebrities to reshape a certain facial feature. Now, people bring in their own photos, edited with filters or apps, to communicate their expectations and needs to the surgeon. 

What Kind of Surgeries Are Being Popularised by Plastic Surgery Filters? 

Since they are for the face, these plastic surgery filters are fueling the demand for invasive and non-invasive procedures that target different areas of the face itself. Now, it’s just speculation, but these filters may have something to do with a demand for the following procedures: 

Lip Fillers 

Previously, you had to overline the lip to have big lips, but now you only have to look at the camera, and voila, you have big lips. But since people like the way their plumped-up lips look, they want to maintain the look.

For that, they end up getting lip fillers. As reported by ASPS, 3.4 million people had soft tissue fillers in 2020. 

Skin Smoothening 

There are more than a few procedures that can help smooth the skin. What needs “smoothing” determines the kind of procedure that’ll best suit you. Considering we are mainly talking about young adults here, a facelift would be unnecessary. 

However, there are non-surgical facelift procedures that address scarring from acne, hyperpigmentation, and premature wrinkles and fine lines. These treatments include chemical peels, laser resurfacing, dermabrasion, and RF therapy.

Nose Job 

A plastic surgery filter app usually ends up making the nose look slimmer with an upturned tip. It can also make the bridge look quite straight. This can become an inspiration for surgical or non-surgical nose jobs

Large Eyes 

Now there’s a filter that makes the eyes look weirdly large, more like that of a cartoon character, but that’s not the one we’re talking about.

Many Chinese beauty apps include plastic surgery filters that make the eyes look larger than they are since big eyes are something that many Chinese women desire. However, to make this change permanent, many choose to have a blepharoplasty.

Foxy Eyes & Lifted Brows 

That’s another one. With more and more celebs and models in Hollywood going for this look, a plastic surgery filter online just helped popularise this trend even more. And this may have driven the demand for eyebrow lift and canthoplasty. 

Are Instagram’s Plastic Surgery Filters Warping the Way We See Our Faces?

Unfortunately, that’s true. There’s even a term for it: “Snapchat Dysmorphia,” derived from Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). In this, a person obsesses over the slightest flaw (either perceived or real) in their appearance. This can even impact their normal functioning. 

Instagram took the decision to ban all cosmetic surgery filters back in 2019. And it had a ton of them like Top Model, Plastics, Holy Natural, Fix Me, Holy Bucks, Perfect Face and whatnot. They decided to do away with them because it was affecting the self-perception of people and lowering their self-esteem. 

However, if it isn’t Instagram, people will turn to look up a “plastic surgery filter Snapchat.” There are also a ton of other photo editing apps that come pre-installed on many phones.

And, now, there’s Pillow Face, a plastic surgery filter TikTok & Instagram folks use. It gives one a huge pout, smooth skin and big cheeks, so there’s no escaping them.

In fact, it may be trending even more. A Google search for “plastic surgery filter Instagram 2021” brings up around 1.3 million results. And Googling “plastic surgery filter Instagram 2022” brings up more than 3 million results! 

Are Plastic Surgery Filters All Bad?

Well, it certainly has its pros. While once people pined over the facial features of celebs, these filters have made people more accepting of themselves, albeit in a slightly different version. 

Furthermore, those who plan to get surgery to change some areas of their face, but aren’t able to articulate what they want, can use these filters to describe their wishes to the doctor. It gives the patient more control over the process. 

Also, there’s something that many people forget to take into consideration. The thing is that sometimes people are not happy with some parts of themselves filter or no filter. In the peak pandemic time when everyone was using Zoom, the “Zoom Boom” happened. 

There were no plastic surgery filters involved there. It was just people seeing themselves through the eye of the camera and not liking some things about themselves. So, it would be rather naive to say that the rising demand for plastic surgery has all to do with these filters. 

How Plastic Surgery Filters Affect Plastic Surgeons?

This trend makes it even more important for surgeons to convey realistic expectations to patients coming in with their edited images. 

It may not be possible for you to achieve a certain kind of look or 100% become the image version of yourself. In addition, even though plastic surgery filters change your face in a matter of seconds, not every cosmetic procedure gives immediate results.

These are unreal expectations fueled by plastic surgery filters. And these are affecting plastic surgeons too. 

If a patient displays symptoms of BDD, it’s important that they get a psychological evaluation before getting the surgery. 

In A Nutshell 

Plastic surgery filters can influence the decision of people to get plastic surgery. However, it may not be the only reason why they’re getting the surgery.

Not all people who use these end up wanting to get surgery; some just use them for fun. There are plenty of people who want surgery even if they haven’t used these filters as much. 

Most of the social media users are 18-29-year-olds. However, plastic surgery is most common among people aged 40-54, according to the ASPS survey.

It’s hard to imagine most 40 or 50-year-olds using these filters, but they’re the ones getting cosmetic surgeries the most. So, don’t go assuming that plastic surgery filters are bad entirely. They have their pros and cons.  

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