A woman is unhappy with the way she looks in her selfie, which could lead to body dysmorphia

With review and feedback from Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates, P.A. facial plastic specialist Jewel Greywoode, MD (Uptown)

The Internet and social media have made photographers out of all of us. Often, our subject is ourselves. However, many times we see our photos and aren’t happy with how we look. We get fixated on perceived flaws and wish we looked better. This scenario is so common it even has a name: selfie dysmorphia.

Why are we unhappy with how we look?

Selfie dysmorphia has a number of contributing causes. First, the angle and distance at which we hold our phones can distort how our facial features look. For example, a recent study showed that when taking selfies while holding a phone 12 inches from their face, men’s noses appeared larger in 30 percent of cases, while women’s noses appeared larger in 29 percent. Proportions weren’t correct until the camera was five feet away from the subjects.

Jewel Greywoode, MD

The rise of filters, like those used on Snapchat and Instagram, is another contributing factor. Filters distort how people look and can create an unrealistic expectation of how a person’s facial features could appear.

“It is important to bring awareness to this phenomenon as access to instant photos becomes increasingly easier,” CEENTA facial plastic surgery specialist Jewel Greywoode, MD, said. “As a facial plastic surgeon, it is my primary goal to help my patients understand what is realistic and would achieve their aesthetic goals.”

Why cosmetic surgery won’t help

Oftentimes, people with selfie dysmorphia will bring their selfies to a facial plastic surgeon and ask to look more like their photos. However, it’s not often realistic to make a person look like their selfies. For one thing, it may not be anatomically possible to do so. In other cases, the requested change may lead to other problems. For example, making someone’s nose too small could lead to breathing difficulties.

When selfie dysmorphia becomes body dysmorphic disorder

A major concern of selfie dysmorphia is the chance that it could lead to body dysmorphic disorder, or BDD. Body dysmorphia is a mental health condition in which a person can’t stop fixating on one or more perceived defects or flaws in their appearance. Signs of this condition include intense focus on appearance or body image, constant grooming, believing that other people are mocking their appearance, constantly comparing their appearance with others, and regularly seeking assurance about their appearance from others. Not only can this cause distress, but it can affect a person’s ability to function, too. Many people with BDD will try cosmetic surgery to address these perceived flaws, but in many cases their satisfaction is only temporary, leading them to seek additional treatment.

Sadly, BDD can often lead to mental health issues including depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and even suicidal thoughts and behavior. Fortunately, a mental health professional can help address and offer treatment for BDD.

Responsible care at CEENTA

The facial plastic surgery specialists here at CEENTA are very aware of selfie dysmorphia and how it could affect their patients’ requests. As responsible doctors, they will address all concerns they have with their patients to help ensure they make healthy choices about their facial features and to love the realistic way they look.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. Would you like an appointment with Dr. Greywoode? Call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.


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