‘Zoom dysmorphia’ becomes a growing problem in patients

Since the start of the 2019 coronavirus disease pandemic (COVID-19), there has been a rapid increase in the use of video conferencing. Zoom estimates that daily meeting attendees have grown from nearly 10 million in December 2019 to over 300 million in April 2020.1

In a presentation at the American Academy of Dermatology Virtual Meeting Experience (AAD VMX) 2021, Shadi Kourosh, MD, MPH, FAAD, said dermatologists have also seen an increase in the number of patients who have expressed negative self-perceptions. related to this increase in videoconferencing. .2

Kourosh is an Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, 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.

“Society quickly shifted to a remote mode of working and socializing during the COVID-19 pandemic, largely communicating through video calls during a stressful and isolating time,” Kourosh said. “As the use of video calls increased, we started to see the consequences of how the extended time to look back had a significant impact on our patients in a phenomenon we call ‘zoom dysmorphia’. “

“Zoom dysmorphia” is defined as an altered or biased negative perception of a person’s body image that results from spending long periods of time on video calls.

In a recent survey that Kourosh helped lead, over 100 dermatologists were asked how the shift to remote working affected patients’ self-perception. The results of the survey revealed that more than 50% of dermatologists have reported an increase in cosmetic consultations, despite being in the midst of a pandemic.

“What was alarming about our research results was that 86% of the dermatologists surveyed who answered these cosmetic concerns said their patients referred to videoconferencing as a reason for requesting a cosmetic consultation,” said Kourosh. “The increased time spent in front of the camera, coupled with the unflattering effects of front cameras, has triggered a disturbing and subconscious response unique to the times we live in. In addition, many people were also spending more time watching social media. altered photos of other people – which triggers unhealthy comparisons to their own images on front cameras, which we know are distorted and not a true reflection. “

She added, “Unfortunately, this is the lens people are looking at today, and it’s not accurate and can eventually get unhealthy,” Kourosh said. “Technology has certainly helped us cope with this pandemic in a number of ways, but it’s also important to be aware of its limitations and potential to impact how we feel.

Kourosh suggested the following tips to help combat “zoom dysmorphia”:

  • Evaluate your technology: Consider using a high resolution external camera for quality video and adding a ring light to control how you light up your face, which will also improve your appearance on camera.
  • Adjust your camera: Try positioning the screen further away from your face and keeping the camera at eye level, which can help minimize camera distortion and improve its appearance.
  • Protect your mental health: Find opportunities to reduce the time spent staring into a front camera by turning off your video on calls when not needed. It can also help to limit social media engagement. Since photo editing is so ubiquitous on social media, it’s unhealthy to compare your own distorted images from front cameras to edited and augmented photos posted online. It can also be helpful to speak to a mental health professional, who can help a person take a healthier approach to their appearance and suggest strategies for redirecting their attention away from perceived physical flaws.
  • Consult a certified dermatologist: If you’re concerned about your appearance, see a certified dermatologist, who can help you determine if a problem really requires cosmetic intervention and, if so, recommend appropriate products or treatments to help you look and feel better.

The references:

1. Business applications. March 2021. https://www.businessofapps.com/data/zoom-statistics/

2. News from AAD. Accessed April 24, 2021. https://aad.new-media-release.com/2021/aadvmx/pages/zoom.html

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