Zoom Dysmorphia Fuels Boost in Cosmetic Consults

April 23, 2021
Zoom Dysmorphia Fuels Boost in Cosmetic Consults image

More than 50 percent of dermatologists reported a rise in cosmetic consultations, despite being in the midst of a pandemic.

During the pandemic, there was a shift to remote work, and demand for video conferencing increased which sired a corresponding rise in the number of patients with negative self-perceptions seeking cosmetic consultations, a new survey shows.

In a survey of more than 100 board-certified dermatologists, more than 50 percent reported a rise in cosmetic consultations, despite being in the midst of a pandemic.  The findings were presented at the AAD VMX 2021.

“Society quickly transitioned to a remote way of working and socializing during the COVID-19 pandemic, communicating largely through video calls during a stressful and isolating time,” says Shadi Kourosh MD, MPH, FAAD — assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, director of community health in the department of dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital and director of the center for Laser Surgery and Aesthetics at Brown Dermatology, in a news release.  “As reliance on video calls increased, we started seeing the consequences of how prolonged time staring back at yourself significantly impacted our patients in a phenomenon we call “Zoom dysmorphia.”

Zoom dysmorphia is an altered or skewed negative perception of one’s body image that results from spending extended amounts of time on video calls, she says.

“What was alarming about our research results was that 86 percent of dermatologists surveyed who were fielding these cosmetic concerns reported that their patients referenced video conferencing as the reason for seeking cosmetic consultation,” says Dr. Kourosh. “The increased time on-camera, coupled with the unflattering effects of front-facing cameras, triggered a concerning and subconscious response unique to the times we’re living in. In addition, many people were also spending more time on social media viewing highly edited photos of others — triggering unhealthy comparisons to their own images on front-facing cameras, which we know is distorted and not a true reflection.”

As more people work from home, studies show that 77 percent of people join video meetings on laptops or desktop computers, 31 percent on mobile phones, and 13 percent on tablets. Zoom estimates daily meeting participants grew from approximately 10 million in December 2019 to more than 300 million in April 2020.

 “Unfortunately, this is the lens in which people are viewing themselves today, and it’s not accurate and can eventually become unhealthy,” says Dr. Kourosh. “Technology has certainly helped us navigate this pandemic in many ways, but it’s also important to be aware of its limitations and potential to impact how we feel about ourselves.”

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