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It's easy to absent-mindedly spend hours taking filtered selfies on a smartphone.

From bunny ears and puppy tongues to skin-smoothing, ‘beauty’ apps, there's an option out there for every tech fan.

Most of us see the pictures as light-hearted fun, but surgeons are becoming increasingly worried by the number of potential patients bringing filtered photographs of their own faces and asking medical professionals to make them a reality.

The phenomenon even has its own name: ‘Snapchat dysmorphia.’

Mashablereports that this term, although originated earlier this year, recently cropped up in the Journal of the American Medical Association as part of an opinion piece about selfies and the effects they've had on the plastic surgery industry.

The article is co-authored by medical professionals, who write:

‘Snapchat dysmorphia’ has patients seeking out cosmetic surgery to look like filtered versions of themselves instead, with fuller lips, bigger eyes, or a thinner nose.

This is an alarming trend because those filtered selfies often present an unattainable look, and are blurring the line of reality and fantasy for these patients.

This isn't the first time that photo filters have made headlines.

Previous stories have linked them to poor mental health, whereas opinion pieces have argued convincingly that they usually make users look more 'beautiful' by aligning their features with an overwhelmingly white, Eurocentric ideal.

Naturally, any tools which allow us to manipulate our appearance can contribute to existing problems.

As we blur, distort and smooth our actual features, we gradually begin to curate an aesthetic which doesn't match the one we see when we look in the mirror.

It might sound trivial, but the most recent phenomenon proves that plenty of us are internalising the idea that we need to change – and the problem looks unlikely to disappear in the near future.

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