A research paper published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery) reports that up to 76% of patients suffering from a Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) seek to alleviate their symptoms with cosmetic surgery even though such surgery rarely improves the condition.
BDD, a psychiatric condition characterized by excessive preoccupation with non-existent or minor defects in one’s appearance, is often associated with the skin, hair or the nose. This preoccupation, the paper says, may impair social interaction through withdrawal from work, family and social activities caused by anxiety, depression, and in its extreme form, suicidal tendencies.
However, studies indicate that patients with BDD need psychiatric care, not cosmetic surgery, and that cosmetic treatment rarely improves BDD. “Patients who receive cosmetic treatments are typically dissatisfied with the result,” the paper says.
“Not only does cosmetic treatment fail to help the patient with BDD, but it also puts the surgeon at undue risk. These patients “often consume the surgeon’s time with frequent telephone calls and requests for additional consultations and procedures.” In extreme instances, they may file malpractice lawsuits and even resort to physical violence.
The paper concludes that it is a condition that is both unrecognized and under reported in most cosmetic surgery practices.
[JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery March/April 2015 Volume 17, number 2]