Making Mountains out of Molehills: Article Reports Higher Rates of Body Dysmorphic Disorder among Facial Plastic Surgery Patients
As an Atlanta plastic cosmetic surgeon who has been practicing for nearly twenty years, I’ve heard many reasons from patients about why they want to change physical attributes with cosmetic surgery. Of course, as a plastic surgeon you have to maintain that thin line between acquiescing to a patient’s desires and measuring their complaints against the level of physical symptoms they exhibit.
Human nature drives us all to change/ better certain physical and emotional aspects of our lives; however, a recent article published in the New York Times entitled Some Nose Job Patients May Have Mental Illness got me thinking about what degree of physical preoccupation needs to be present before it becomes an abnormal tendency.
The article detailed a Belgian study during which 266 rhinoplasty (nose surgery) patients were surveyed about their current level of happiness concerning appearance and their preoccupation with cosmetic complaints (e.g.- how long they examine their appearance, if their cosmetic issue interferes with their social activities, etc.). Of the 266 study participants, 43% were found to exhibit signs of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). A condition characterized by extreme preoccupation with a physical characteristic (e.g.- the size of one’s nose or a tiny tummy pooch), BDD often causes patients to severely limit their social interaction and daily activity for fear that it will highlight what they deem to be physical flaws.
There are few of us who wouldn’t admit that there is at least one thing we wish were slightly different about our bodies, but we most certainly do not let this affect where we go and what we allow ourselves to do. In fact, it is the common desire for “small cosmetic enhancement” that inspired me to create and offer Band Aid Plastic Surgery Procedures. I now offer my patients Band Aid Facelift, Band Aid Blepharoplasty, Band Aid Tummy Tuck, and Band Aid Liposuction to provide subtle cosmetic enhancement and facial rejuvenation when the dramatic changes associated with traditional versions of the procedures are not warranted.
I bring up this article to remind prospective plastic surgery patients to really examine the reasons they want cosmetic surgery. It is true that physical and emotional dissatisfaction are often coupled, and small changes like those provided with Band Aid procedures can help bridge that gap between having that one area you’re not completely satisfied with and feeling good about the way you look. However, it is also true that thoughtful consideration is needed before you should undergo plastic surgery. Cosmetic procedures, though elective, are still surgery and carry inherent medical risk. The best way to maximize satisfaction with your plastic surgery results is to be completely honest with your plastic surgeon. Share with them what you are hoping to accomplish with surgery; in turn, they may be able to offer you advice as to whether surgery or another, non-surgical procedure can or cannot deliver those results.