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Finns going under knife to resemble re-touched selfies in real life

Plastic surgeons in Finland say they are witnessing cases of 'snapchat dysmorphia’ where people book treatments to look like their filtered selfies.

tyttö ottaa selfien
File photo. Image: AOP

The Finnish plastic surgery community says social media is changing how people see themselves.

Photo retouching has never been easier. With a few swipes a nose is narrowed, eyes look bigger and teeth whiter.

”Plastic surgeons are seeing a trend of people being inspired by selfie culture, but cosmetic doctors won’t put anyone under the knife unnecessarily,” Anna Höckerstedt, chair of the Finnish Association of Plastic Surgeons, told Yle.

Höckerstedt said aesthetic cosmetic surgery is growing in Finland, with more people booking minor procedures. That said, social media’s airbrushed and perfect images are leading to unrealistic expectations, according to Höckerstedt.

Susanna Roine, yrittäjä kauneusklinikka The Look
Finland doesn't require medical licensing from beauty practitioners in the dermal filler business. Image: Toni Pitkänen / Yle

Up until recently, patients arrived at cosmetic surgeon’s offices equipped with photos of movie stars or models, but today they swipe through selfie galleries on their smartphones.

But a picture-perfect selfie isn't always workable in real life.

”Enlarged lips can look good from a certain angle, but appear very strange when the person speaks or laughs,” Höckerstedt explained, adding that the industry has always grappled with people's unrealistic expectations.

”Selfie awareness is enlarging the pool of people with far-fetched ideas," she added.

Changing perceptions of beauty

In the United States last year, 55 percent of facial plastic surgery patients said they want to look better in selfies, up 13 percent from 2016, according to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Cosmetic surgeons meanwhile warn that people under the spell of 'snapchat dysmorphia' can develop body dysmorphic disorder, an affliction characterised by obsession over imagined defects in one's appearance.

”These types of patients may experience short-term satisfaction after a procedure, such as a lip augmentation, so they swiftly book a new procedure to relive that feeling. This leads to an abnormal appearance over time,” Höckerstedt explained.

In Finland, it’s not only medical doctors who can reshape a person’s face.

By law anyone can inject fillers to smooth wrinkles and plump up skin, according to Höckerstedt.

”If a person’s unrealistic requests are turned down by one cosmetic doctor, they can always try another clinic, or even travel to another country for the procedure.”

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