Social media triggering some teens to seek plastic surgery, medical article claims

Wake County News

A new medical article reveals a new link forming between teens seeking plastic surgery and social media.

Teens CBS 17’s Felicia Bolton spoke with say the pressure to fit in and look perfect goes far beyond the classroom for many millennials — because of social media.

“We’re basically forced to try to look a certain way to meet society’s standards,” said Marquis Monroe.

Marquis Monroe, 18, is an aspiring professional make up artist. She also fought to become the first transgender homecoming queen at her high school.

“It would make me feel, it made me feel more comfortable being able to run as queen instead of king. Because I identify more as queen than king,” said Monroe. 

While she is finally comfortable with herself, she says social media doesn’t help.

“That makes it more difficult because you see all these pretty girls and, like, handsome guys,” said Monroe. “It’s hard to … try to fit in. Especially if you’re not born looking how they look.”

Yancie Mitchell, 14, loves cross country running, modeling and pageants.

Like Monroe, she says the impact of social media can weigh heavy on a teen — even causing some to undergo plastic surgery to look like their favorite celebrity. 

“I think that when you know a big role model that they are looking up to has had plastic surgery and you know they’ve had it. I feel like teens we are like ‘oh well you know what I want to look like them. I want to be like them and act just like them’,” Yancie Mitchell said. 

The Director of the Boston University Cosmetic and Laser Center Neelam Vashi has studied a phenomenon she calls “Snapchat Dysmorphia.” 

Vashi, a dermatologist, said it occurs when people are looking for cosmetic procedures to improve their look in selfies and look like a filtered and altered version of themselves.

But not all plastic surgeons are quick to single out social media.

“So while social media may be a factor in teenagers having plastic surgery, teenagers have always sought plastic surgery. This may be for reason of medical necessity. For example, they can’t breathe through their nose,” stated Dr. Michelle Roughton.

UNC Plastic Surgeon Michelle Roughton says the desire for teens to have plastic surgery existed long before Snapchat.

“The other reason that people may pursue plastic surgery as teenager may even be for self-confidence. For example, if you have prominent ears it may even make you more self-confident to have your ears less projected,” said Dr. Michelle Roughton.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports 229,000 cosmetic procedures performed last year were on patients ages 13 to 19.

According to new guidelines, procedures like a nose job or ear surgery are appropriate for an adolescent. While other cosmetic procedures, such as breast augmentation or liposuction, are typically not recommended for minors.

Dr. Roughton says the decision to go under the knife should always be done with a medically trained professional. It should also include a mental health evaluation to see if the patient is psychologically ready.

“It’s important that the motivation comes from the patient and not an external source encouraging the patient to have surgery,” said Roughton.

While “Snapchat Dysmorphia” is just now being recognized as a psychiatric disorder, not everyone who wants to make facial changes has the condition.

Click here for a look at the full study “Selfies – Living in the Era of Filtered Photographs.”

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