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Zoom meetings could be affecting self-image as demand for plastic surgery grows

Are Zoom meetings making us feel bad about how we look? A new report reveals a growing trend of “Zoom Dysmorphia.”

Do you stare at yourself during Zoom meetings?
Do you stare at yourself during Zoom meetings? (Zoom)

Even as the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives, video conferencing platforms such as Zoom has become the preferred digital tool to communicate and collaborate. Though these platforms bring a lot of comforts, many are becoming increasingly concerned that Zoom meetings may be bad for self-image. After all, we are staring at ourvown faces most of the time. A new study reveals demand for plastic surgery has grown significantly in recent months because of something called “Zoom Dysmorphia.”

In an editorial published in Facial Plastic Surgery & Aesthetic Medicine, authors note a surge in patients citing their appearance on Zoom as a reason to seek care. Patients were concerned with acne and wrinkles in particular. Citing Google search trends, the report pointed out that terms such as “acne” and “hair loss” are increasing.

“They attributed this trend to the association of acne and hair loss with anxiety and depression, common psychological conditions during quarantine. We suspect the trend may also arise from people constantly seeing themselves on video and becoming more aware of their appearance,” it further said.

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The report pointed out that before Zoom took over as the metric for valuing one’s appearance, patients used selfies and a variety of photo editing apps to post a filtered version of themselves. Called “Snapchat dysmorphia”, many patients wanted to look closer to the edited version of their faces.

“In 2019, 72% of American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery members reported seeing patients seeking cosmetic procedures to improve their selfies,” it added.

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Unlike the filtered version in still photos, users have little control over how they look on Zoom meetings – a reason behind for many seeking an artificial change in their appearance and cosmetic procedure. According to the report, some may have feelings of depression after seeing their own wrinkles and worry that others may deem them depressed. Another explanation is that users are flocking to plastic surgery due to watching their own imperfections on a daily basis.

“This becomes a major concern when an individual becomes excessively preoccupied with real or imagined defects. A life disproportionately spent on Zoom may trigger a self-critical comparative response that leads people to rush to their physicians for treatments they may not have considered before months confronting a video screen, a new phenomenon of “Zoom Dysmorphia”, it added.

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