The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us all. It has had a tremendous impact on our personal and professional lives, with most of us bound to our homes. Remote working has become the norm for many, and this brings unintended consequences. 
A rise in mental health concerns has been widely attributed to the pandemic. As a surgical clinic, there is one concern that stands out to us: “Video conferencing dysmorphia”. 
 
Video conferencing has become the normality with so many platforms such as Zoom, Teams and BlueJeans and other software that’s available for us to interact with one another across the globe in real time. 
 
Video conferencing dysmorphia can affect anyone, although it’s a particular concern for those who already suffer from body dysmorphia. But what is it? And how can you protect yourself from it? Let’s take a look… 
 
What is Video Conferencing Dysmorphia? 
The pandemic has forced many of us to socially isolate and stay home-bound. As a result, we are now relying on video-conferencing software, to communicate with friends, family, and work colleagues. We are spending hours upon hours staring into a laptop screen and seeing a pixelated image of ourselves staring back. 
 
Consequently, we begin to judge ourselves based on this image. We take notice of all the little details, and start to ask questions such as… 
Is this really how I look? I’ve never noticed that spot before! My cheeks look puffy; have they always been like that? 
Like a snowball rolling down a hill, these concerns get larger and larger until they eventually become a serious problem. That is how body dysmorphia – or, in this case, “Video conferencing dysmorphia” – begins. As a consequence of the pandemic, more and more people are at risk of developing body dysmorphia. 
 
But it’s not just our image up on the screen. Additionally, we will begin to compare ourselves with the person or people we’re communicating with. As a result, we build a negative perception of our appearance based on a few pixelated images. But this perception is powerful. It can devastatingly impact our self-confidence, body image, and mental wellbeing. 
 
Video conferencing Dysmorphia and Cosmetic Surgery 
A 2021 study observed that people are seeking cosmetic surgery to improve their appearance for their video-conferencing calls. This is similar to the so-called “Snapchat dysmorphia” phenomenon, in which teenagers seek cosmetic surgery to create their “perfect” look based on Snapchat filters. The pandemic has only worsened these issues for those already living with body dysmorphia. 
 
The reported rise in cosmetic surgery can be attributed to Video conferencing dysmorphia. It is therefore important that we, as cosmetic surgeons, are aware of this trend. Body dysmorphia is a mental health condition that affects many people - men and women. If you suffer from body dysmorphia and desire cosmetic surgery, you should first speak to a mental health professional about your concerns. Cosmetic surgery is a life-changing decision that should not be taken lightly. 
 
At Suffolk Breast Practice, it is our responsibility to be aware of such trends which may jeopardise the wellbeing of our clients. We pride ourselves on an ethical and non-judgemental service; the wellbeing of our patients is at the heart of what we do. We listen to our clients and may ask many questions to ensure that the surgery is not lightly taken. Patient care is our number one priority. 
 
Reference 
Rice et al. (2021), Video conferencing into Cosmetic Procedures During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Provider’s Perspective. International Journal of Women’s Dermatology. 
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