Augmented Reality and Plastic Surgery
Augmented reality (AR) is defined by Wikipedia as “An interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information” Common examples of the are the filters applied through most photo apps to improve the skin tones and texture or alter one’s facial features.
Last month, the company behind Instagram’s AR face filters, Spark AR, announced that it would be removing all Instagram filters associated with plastic surgery. They also announced that they would postpone the approval of new effects associated with plastic surgery. You can read more about this in our previous blog here.
This recent news has led to a “black market” of banned Instagram filters. Foxall Studio’s in London allegedly now use a secret link to spread their face changing filters to those opposed to the ban. One of the alleged banned filters was for rhinoplasty surgery, highlighting the post-surgery swelling and bruising associated with nose jobs.
“We liked that this rhinoplasty filter would allow users to process the procedure of cosmetic enhancement and start to form an opinion on it,” said Foxall.
Foxall believes AR provides an important tool for people to visualise something that they would otherwise only be able to imagine – and therein lies the problem. Every patient electing to undergo surgery unique. Their results will vary according to their age, genetic makeup, skin laxity, scars and a multitude of other factors that the apps simply cannot consider when performing the simulations. An Instagram filter is not an indication of realistic results and does not manage a patient’s expectations effectively.
Furthermore, a Specialist Plastic Surgeon will be able to advise a patient if they are a good candidate for rhinoplasty in a one on one consultation and be able to offer their professional opinion on the results that can be realistically and safely achieved.
The next question is: Do Instagram users, desperate to seek some form of guidance for their anticipated surgery, from their friends or followers, really care enough about the accuracy of the filters to start using the banned ones? This will further impact on the already debilitating effects of social media usage on some individual’s self-esteem. It may also convince some to engage in potentially expensive and sometimes risky surgery to alter themselves unnecessarily.
This is already happening around the world. Some social media influencers excessively enhance features such as their eyes, lips and bottoms. This has resulted in a generation of young people seeking procedures to make their own features unnaturally large, sometime with devastating long-term consequences.
Patients have been permanently scarred, blinded and disfigured by inappropriate or excessive use of dermal fillers and others have even died from seeking buttock enhancement from so called “Brazilian Butt lifts” (BBLs). Studies show that Body dysmorphia (BDD: Body dysmorphic Disorder) is over-represented in this group of individuals who may not realise that the features they are seeking to enhance are already unnaturally and sometimes dangerously augmented. Yet they are often seeking “The Look” displayed by their Instagram idols.