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The Dangers of Social Media and Cosmetic Surgery

Social media provides users various ways to present the ‘best’ version of themselves, whether it be from filters or TikTok’s settings that whiten teeth and smooth out skin. However, while altering one’s appearance for a 15-second video or one Instagram post might seem harmless, what happens when social media users want to see these so-called best versions of themselves all the time?

Here, Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors takes a look at how the rise of social media editing is influencing young people to consider cosmetic surgery from a young age and how to avoid this. 

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Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and Snapchat feature hundreds of filters that users can toggle through and apply to their pictures and videos. While flower crowns and Avatar filters offer a bit of fun, users also access filters that give them freckles, longer eyelashes, more defined cheekbones and a thinner nose - just a few examples! 

Applications like Facetune take this even a step further, charging its users a monthly subscription fee to be able to make their nose smaller, their teeth whiter and their figure more like their favourite celebrities. When the app first launched, it was hailed in the Huffington Post as “a Photoshop editing job in the palm of your hand” and was even referred to as “magical”. 

This ability to be able to tweak one’s image at the drop of a hat has given rise to a group of social media users who are no longer happy with their appearances. Dr Esho, cosmetic doctor at The Esho Clinic and star of E4's Body Fixers, dubs the phenomenon “Snapchat dysmorphia”. 

“Today’s generation can’t escape ‘the Truman effect’ because from birth they are born into an age of social platforms where their feelings of self-worth can be based purely on the number of likes and followers that they have, which is linked to how good they look or how great these images are,” Esho told The Independent.

The impact of social media on younger generations

Campaigners for positive body image and cosmetic surgeons are particularly concerned about how this easy access to photo and video editing would affect young people. 

Celebrities on social media could be seen as directly to blame for the growing demand for injectable face fillers and Botox among patients who are getting younger and younger. The buccal fat removal trend was the hot topic of late 2022, with many celebrities admitting to having fat removed from their cheeks for a more defined look. 

While it may be seen as positive that celebrities are now freely admitting to what procedures they have had, as they are proving that their beauty is not all down to genetics, it may influence younger people into getting cosmetic procedures. If celebrities’ followers know that their favourite star has only achieved their look through procedures, they may believe that they can and should do the same. 

Social media's influence extends beyond non-surgical procedures, as young people are also asking for invasive procedures like liposuction, breast implants, and Brazilian Butt Lifts.

In a study into cosmetic procedures and the influences that drive people into undergoing a procedure carried out by Nuffield Bioethics, it was discovered that “increased use of the rating of images of the self and the body [on social media], for example through 'likes'; the popularity of celebrity culture, airbrushed images and makeover shows; [and] the huge growth in the use of social media” was a huge contributing factor into why people had cosmetic procedures. 

In a similar study carried out by Walker et al, the researchers suggest that those wishing to undergo a cosmetic procedure should first have to go through a psychological screening beforehand. 

How to adopt a more neutral body image 

Body positivity can often feel overwhelming, the pressure to completely love your body is not for everyone. Body neutrality can be a healthy approach to body image if loving your body or focusing on your appearance doesn’t feel safe or possible for you. 

There are many ways in which you can practise body neutrality, as it may not be something that comes naturally to you. Especially for those who have a negative outlook when it comes to their body, even accepting your body for what it does for you can be difficult. Take a look at some of the ways that you can start to practise body neutrality:

  • Focus on what your body can do for you. Your body is more than just how it looks. It is important to remember what your body does for you, rather than just what it looks like on the outside. Your body gets you from A to B, digests food and allows you to communicate with your loved ones. If you are feeling low about how your body looks, try to remember what your body does for you instead.
  • Spend less time getting ready. Spending copious amounts of time getting ready and staring at yourself in the mirror gives you plenty of time to focus on all of your perceived flaws and can even make you create new ones.
  • Wear comfortable clothes. Fashion trends may come and go, but it’s very important to wear clothing that you feel comfortable in. Do not feel as though you have to fit in with the latest fashion trends, make sure that you feel happy and comfortable in what you are wearing.
  • Stop unwanted conversations. If you are part of a conversation regarding weight loss or something regarding your body that you do not feel comfortable with, take yourself away from the situation. Creating a more positive environment for yourself allows you to stop getting bogged down with negative thoughts about your body. 
  • Be patient. It is vital that you are patient with yourself. You may have years of thoughts to unlearn before becoming a truly body neutral person. These thought processes take time and it is integral that you do not rush yourself or feel like you have failed if it does not come as quickly as you would like. 

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How to be safe

The hazards of having cosmetic surgery when you are young are obvious, yet for many people, the benefits outweigh the risks. Those who decide to have surgery should take the required precautions to choose a surgeon who is completely qualified and never skimp on the standard of care in an effort to save money.

At Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors, we encourage people considering surgery to take the following actions:

  • Seek recommendations from friends or family members who may have undergone a similar procedure to the one you are looking for. You can also gain valuable information from:
    • Your GP
    • The General Medical Council’s specialist register
    • The British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgeons
    • The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons
    • Royal College of Surgeons
  • Check the qualifications of the surgeon in question
  • Be prepared to pay - cosmetic procedures are expensive, and this is justified by their complex nature and the level of skill involved with performing such a major operation
  • Ask the questions you need before surgery

For support in making the right choice, you can view our checklist, ‘How to choose a safe cosmetic surgeon’ and visit Save Face to explore their register of cosmetic surgeons.

Contact us

Should anything go wrong due to medical negligence, we are here to support you and help you gain the compensation you are entitled to on a no-win, no-fee basis. As the first law firm in England and Wales to specialise in cosmetic surgery, we have the experience and knowledge to help you every step of the way. Get in touch with us today - call 0808 271 2506 or complete our online enquiry form to request a call back

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Mike Saul


Michael Saul is a partner at Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors, where he brings his extensive specialist legal expertise and passion for helping people to the forefront of his work. With a proven track record of success in cosmetic surgery negligence cases, Michael has dedicated his career to providing clients with the highest level of representation and achieving favourable outcomes.

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