Digital filters that alter one’s appearance to mimic plastic surgery are not just harmless apps designed to entertain yourself and your friends.  The widespread use of these apps on social media could have serious implications.  We are all quite accustomed to seeing the photos of celebrities who seem to defy the aging process and who always look picture-perfect. Most of us are fine with it. After all, this is what celebrities do best: they look beautiful.

Quite another thing when someone who appears to be just a regular person manages to look flawless on their Instagram posts.  This can easily circumvent our natural defenses and make us feel insecure and hyper aware of our own imperfections. This is especially true for younger Instagram users who tend to be more susceptible to the pressure of their peers.  Then the app comes along that can fix all the little imperfections with digital “plastic surgery”.  This not so subtle message -“plastic surgery is a solution to making you look better” is certainly not lost on younger people who are showing up in plastic surgeons’ office in great numbers.

With the phones in their hands they are requesting the same kind of look enhancement through real surgery as they see on Instagram. As a facial plastic surgeon based in NYC, I find this trend to be quite troublesome.  Plastic surgery is a lot more complicated than a simple tap of a digital filter. When decision to undertake a cosmetic procedure is made under a false premise of achieving perfection with great ease it will invariably lead to disappointment.  I am not entirely opposed to letting younger generation to have the freedom to explore the world and learn from their mistakes, I am just opposed to letting them make mistakes choosing the wrong plastic surgery. In many cases this can not be undone. As a Facial Plastic Surgeon, I was quite happy to learn about Instagram ban on “cosmetic surgery” filters.

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