Plastic surgeons frequently watch for symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) in their prospective patients. Characterized by abnormal preoccupation with self-perceived appearance defects, BDD can be a distressing condition and contraindication for cosmetic surgery.
A recent study published in Psychiatry Research provides the most recent update on the prevalence of BDD, examining the population demographics that are most affected and the tendency of those affected to seek cosmetic surgery. 2,510 German people were analyzed in the research study, and 45 of them were showed symptoms of BDD. Symptoms (or inclusion criteria) included the following:
- Preoccupation with an imagined defect in appearance
- Concern is markedly excessive
- Causes clinically significant distress / impairment in function
Of those 45 people experiencing the above symptoms, 7 of them had undergone cosmetic surgery.
As a general rule, cosmetic surgeons do not operate on patients who have this disorder — for many reasons, including the high chance for the patient to be dissatisfied with the results. However, patients do not always report symptoms of BDD to their cosmetic surgeon. They may be embarrassed about it or they may be unaware that such behavior (preoccupation with a perceived appearance defect) is abnormal. Subjects in the study showed an intense, frequent preoccupation and dislike of body parts such as the ears, nose, stomach, hips, buttocks, skin and breasts.
The disorder poses a significant threat to one’s health. Aside from being a general hindrance, BDD is linked to increased thoughts about suicide and suicide attempts. Therefore, as authors of the study suggest, awareness of body dysmorphic disorder should continue to increase and careful screening by healthcare providers should be initiated to help people suffering from it. A disorder like BDD also reinforces the need for cosmetic surgery patients to be completely open and honest about their reasons for seeking surgery and their medical history.