Plastic surgeons and dermatologists have seen a pandemic wave of patients seeking help for facial flaws they’ve noticed watching themselves onscreen over countless hours of video conferencing.

Early in the pandemic, Dr. Shadi Kourosh, a dermatologist and a professor at Harvard Medical School noticed "an uptick in the number of cosmetic consultations that we were receiving, which was unusual because we were still in a state of pandemic and crisis as a society."

"Many patients were telling me that their appearance on video conferencing was making them concerned," Kourosh said. "And I started having conversations with some of my friends and colleagues in the dermatology community about this.”

Those conversations inspired an editorial in the journal Facial Plastic Surgery & Aesthetic Medicine. They also launched a survey of over 130 international dermatologists, where, according to Kourosh, more than 85% of patients seeking cosmetic evaluation cited Zoom or video conferencing as the reasons why.

Kourosh said that from a cosmetic standpoint, videoconferencing is almost designed to make you look bad.

“Front facing cameras on our devices, like our smartphones or even laptops, these devices actually distort images even more than classical cameras," Kourosh said. "And because of our habits in terms of use of these devices — we're usually holding a phone or sitting closer to a laptop than a person would classically take a photograph — and so the distortion is even greater."

"It was worse than just looking at a mirror," she added. "It was like looking into a circus mirror that distorts a person's appearance.”

Kourosh said that seeing other people looking fabulous in touched-up instagram photos doesn’t help, either.

“People are isolated. They're having a hard time psychologically from the isolation alone," she said. "They're viewing their own distorted, unflattering image on video conferencing all day long. And then at the same time, they're viewing these augmented and heavily edited photos of other people on social media. So you can see how this would be a perfect storm to make anyone who wasn't self-conscious to begin with self-conscious afterwards.”

Listen to the full interview on GBH's In It Together.

A previous version of this story misspelled Dr. Shadi Kourosh's last name.