Instagram is banning plastic surgery face filters

It was announced this month that Instagram will be banning face filters that mimic plastic surgery. The decision was prompted in an effort by the site to minimise the impact on the mental health of youth who may be affected by poor self-image influenced by the site.

The question is, will it be enough to change beauty ideals? Especially when other platforms such as Snapchat utilise similar filters.

Facebook reported that over 1 billion users tried the face transforming filters last year alone! The news was released by Facebook’s augmented reality platform, Spark AR. Some of the filters simulated a thinner nose, larger eyes and oversized lips and were encouraging users to try body modification. Some of the filters went as far as to showcase the bruising associated with surgery!

As with Snapchat dysmorphia which we spoke about in a previous blog, there is a growing disquiet about the relationship between social media, physical appearance and mental health. With the impact of celebrities, Social media influencers and highly edited imagery, there is no need to add to the pressure on youth by the portrayal of “beauty” in digital media

What are the filters being banned on Instagram?

These filters may produce unrealistic images of high cheekbones, exaggerated lips, airbrushed smooth skin and enlarged eyes in an almost cartoonish fashion. Celebrities including Bella Hadid to Ariana Grande use these filters. This has contributed to a boom in non-invasive procedures, especially among young women.

Facebook has released the following statement on the matter:

“We want filters to be a positive experience for people. While we’re re-evaluating, we will remove all effects from the gallery associated with plastic surgery, stop further approval of new effects like this and remove current effects if they’re reported to us.”

Mary McGill, whose doctoral research at the National University of Ireland Galway looks at selfies and post-feminist digital cultures, says in response to the news: “I welcome any change that makes navigating our intensely visual culture easier but I think this is a pretty meagre gesture. The issue goes way beyond a few filters to a range of practices and norms that sites like Instagram have introduced into our lives.”

What should Specialist Plastic Surgeons aim for in 2020 when it comes to the issue of Snapchat dysmorphia and the heavy influence of Instagram filters?

Whilst there is no issue with patients wanting to change themselves to reflect their desire to look better, the goal of the aesthetic surgery is to change a patient’s appearance such that they are still recognisable as their pre-surgery self. It is the responsibility of the surgeon to offer advice as to what procedures might be restoring or improving and those which might be transforming or significantly altering of one’s appearance.

It is not wise to make life changing decisions such as plastic surgery at times of emotional stress, such as divorce or separation. Similarly, going under the knife to look like a celebrity or because a boyfriend or friends have suggested it, is not appropriate.

Dr Mark Hanikeri is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon in Subiaco, Western Australia. The “Specialist Plastic Surgeon” title can only be used by surgeons in the recognised Specialty of Plastic Surgery. It is the Australian equivalent of Board certified” in the USA. Mark has had 15 years’ experience as a specialist in cosmetic surgery of the body, breast and face.

To book an appointment for fillers or wrinkle relaxers in Perth, Murdoch, Bunbury or Albany please call 08 9380 0311.