Retouched images and photos with filters lead to unrealistic appearance wishes among some users of social networks – this is reported by cosmetic surgeons. The Association of German Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (VDÄPC) sees a tendency, especially in younger patients, for correction requests to be expressed on the basis of edited photos, as the association announced on Friday in Berlin.

Those affected come to the practice with filtered photos, for example from influencers on TikTok or Instagram, but also with their own edited photos, said Alexander Hilpert, specialist in plastic and aesthetic surgery, on request.

unrealistic body image

With smartphone selfies, such filters make it possible, for example, to put on make-up, smooth wrinkles and change the shape of the face with just a few clicks. Nowadays, digital tools also allow laypersons to change the figure in photos with a few clicks: for less stomach, more décolleté or more buttocks. Such processing often leads to a “morphed and distorted body image” and correspondingly unrealistic correction requests, said Hilpert.

If patients want to match the look of the edited images, as a doctor he points out the “distorted reality” of the photos and points out that certain wishes are often unrealistic. The VDÄPC recommends not performing any aesthetic operations on minors. Hilpert also warned of trends that are spreading rapidly in social media: these are often out of proportion to the medically sensible and realistic possibilities. As a current example, he cited procedures in which fat pads are removed from the cheek to emphasize the cheekbones and make the face more prominent (buccal fat removal).

Most customers are women

In the new treatment statistics for 2022, the association reports almost 37,800 cosmetic surgeries and almost 60,800 minimally invasive procedures (e.g. Botox treatments against wrinkles). The most common cosmetic surgeries are therefore liposuction, before upper limb lifts and breast augmentations. Most customers are women. Operations and interventions by around 100 members of the association in practices and clinics were taken into account.

There is no central German register for cosmetic surgeries and other interventions. According to the latest available figures from 2021, the International Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) had estimated the annual total number of operations and treatments in Germany at over one million, including almost 606,000 minimally invasive procedures.