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Social media's Snapchat dysmorphia

Teen, 12, gets breast reduction in Dubai over social media pressure

Fueled by content on social networks, peer pressure and often backed up by parents, more and more young teenagers are requesting surgical procedures and cosmetic enhancements, surgeons say

The Media Line |
Published: 04.24.22, 11:49
Plastic surgeons in the United Arab Emirates have revealed they are performing a rising number of cosmetic enhancements on adolescents, with one admitting he performed a breast reduction on a patient aged just 12 years old.
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  • Fueled by social media and peer pressure and often backed up by parents, more teenagers are requesting surgical procedures such as nose jobs, and cosmetic enhancements such as lip fillers, surgeons reveal.
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    Social media's Snapchat dysmorphia
    Social media's Snapchat dysmorphia
    Social media's Snapchat dysmorphia
    (Photo: Snapchat)
    “The age at which patients are looking to have cosmetic surgery is getting younger,” says Dr. Luiz Toledo, a surgeon at MMC Sheikh Manaa Polyclinic. “People are more aware of the way they look, by constantly taking selfies and examining their faces on the mobile phone,” he says.
    The trend of plastic surgeries is largely inspired by photo filters on social media, in which users are given tools to whiten teeth, remove blemishes, or reshape facial features.
    Often referred to as “Snapchat dysmorphia,” this can perpetuate an unrealistic obsession with correcting subjective flaws and can lead to a “reality check when they [teenagers] look at themselves in the mirror,” says Dr. Toledo, admitting that about 15% of his patients are under the age of 20.
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    The youngest patient he has personally worked with was a 12-year-old girl who had a breast reduction and lift.
    This is despite Dubai Health Authority guidelines which state that procedures on patients under age 18 should only be performed for medical reasons, while “cosmetic nonsurgical procedures such as facial Botox and fillers are not permitted” for those in the same age group.
    The trend is echoed at other Dubai clinics.
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    Emirates Daily Life
    Emirates Daily Life
    Dubai, UAE
    (Photo: AP /Jon Gambrell)
    “Teenagers are much more aware of different procedures and come to us with clear goals,” says Dr. Sanjay Parashar, a surgeon and the chairman of Cocoona Centre of Aesthetic Transformation.
    The doctor said he can make between 2,000 and 4,000 dirhams ($540 to $1,100) a month for “injectables” – such as fillers – and up to 30,000 dirhams ($8,200) a month for surgical enhancements for teen patients.
    “I think social media has played a significant role in making [teenagers] self-aware about their body image and at the same time they are exposed to trends and fashion worldwide,” he says.
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    Dancer applies makeup
    Dancer applies makeup
    Body image issue among teenagers/ Illustration
    (Photo: Getty Images North America)
    “I see an average of 40 to 50 teenage patients a month [who] often come asking for lip enhancement, nose correction with fillers, rhinoplasty, ear corrections, and body piercings. Girls between the ages of 14 to 18 years are coming asking to improve the shape of the nose.”
    However, some surgeons in Dubai are still reluctant to operate on teens.
    Dr. Dany Touma, a dermatologist and founder of Skin Experts Polyclinic in Jumeirah, says he receives about half a dozen requests for cosmetic enhancements from teenagers each month – often backed up by their parents.
    “Lip enhancement is the most commonly requested procedure; the lip defines much of the attractiveness of the face and young girls are often anxious to get fuller lips,” he says.
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     Emotional Intelligence 2
     Emotional Intelligence 2
    Lips/ Illustration
    (Photo: CD Bank)
    “They often come with one or both parents. My take on it is, what would I do if this was my own daughter or son?
    “I spend a lot of time empowering these kids – these boys and girls – that they look great just as they are and they should respect their individual characteristics.”

    The story is written by Jennifer Bell and reprinted with permission from the Media Line.
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