How remote working and video calls have led to an increase in cosmetic treatments, according to Dr Zama Tladi

A medical doctor, Dr Zama Tladi is the founder and chief aesthetician practitioner of Nubian Medical Aesthetics in Menlyn, Pretoria.
A medical doctor, Dr Zama Tladi is the founder and chief aesthetician practitioner of Nubian Medical Aesthetics in Menlyn, Pretoria.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting move to remote working, adults are now spending around four hours each day on online work calls. While we might be focusing on forecasts, strategies and deliverables, we’re all scrutinising our faces and noticing our every “flaw” – from hormonal acne and receding hairlines to pigmentation and a double chin.

In the “old normal”, we might not have been that aware of our faces all the time – we simply stepped into meetings and got on with things, without really considering our looks throughout, and comparing our faces side-by-side like we do online. Now, however, we’re literally faced with our faces online, becoming hyper-critical, losing confidence and often seeking solutions.

This phenomenon is called “Zoom Dysmorphia”, a disorder where people are hyper-focused on their perceived flaws, and thinking that everyone else in the meeting is eyeing them too and picking up on them too.

Therefore, it’s important for patients to understands that webcams are flawed, and that even lighting can affect one’s onscreen appearance

As a result of this Zoom Dysmorphia, we are seeing a trend of more patients enter our rooms wanting to fix the “faults” they think they see in themselves online. They might request injectables, microneedling and non-surgical face lifts. According to a Google Trends analysis, there’s been an increase in search terms such as acne, due to constrictive sweaty masks, and hair loss, due to increased stress, during lockdown.

However, an important thing to note is that webcams often distort video quality, and therefore don’t represent one accurately. 

According to a report in the journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, a portrait taken at a distance of 12 inches increased nose size by 29% in women and 30% in men, compared with photographs taken at an infinite camera distance.

READ MORE | Are you suffering from pandemic fatigue 

Therefore, it’s important for patients to understands that webcams are flawed, and that even lighting can affect one’s onscreen appearance – for example light shining from the front is flattering, while light coming from above creates shadows on your face. This means that we might be perceiving ourselves as far more wrinkled, flawed and tired looking than we actually are.

Another founded reason for an increase in non-invasive facial procedures is a result of patients constantly wearing masks, and the risk of the new acne -  “maskne”. This is caused by the growth of bacteria owing to increased warmth and humidity under the mask.

Maskne could cause pimples as well as irritation, bumps and redness. Aside from using good dermatologist-recommended acne products and changing masks frequently, treatments such as microneedling and chemical peels are useful for improving

 

Tips for overcoming Zoom Dysmorphia

  • Realise that your perceived flaws are amplified by the camera.
  • Notice that most people are more concerned with their own projected image.
  • Where possible and appropriate, turn your camera off if you are suffering from screen image fatigue
  • If you will be face to face with yourself, try do your makeup beforehand to enhance your appearance. Foundation, undereye concealer, lipstick, mascara and blush can boost your confidence, and transform your appearance. It’s interesting that many women don’t wear makeup online because they’re just “at home”, but if you dressed for the home office like you did the workplace, your self-confidence could be elevated.
  • Find a feature you love and rather focus on that, whether it’s great brows, a smile or glowing skin.
  • Play around with the Zoom filter if it appeals to you.
  • Realise that it’s okay to seek improvements in the aesthetic doctor’s chair for things that are really there, such as pigmentation or crow’s lines around the eyes. You deserve to feel good about yourself, but you always owe it to yourself to not be hyper-critical, and to not compare yourself to anyone online, especially on social media when one is usually edited and filtered to the max!


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