Everyone has something about their body that they dislike— it’s perfectly normal to feel this way. But for those suffering from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), slight imperfections cause severe emotional distress. In fact, individuals with BDD often imagine body imperfections that aren’t even there. Many times, these individuals will seek many cosmetic procedures to alter their bodies, and may become addicted to plastic surgery. For patients with BDD, every plastic surgery is viewed as a potential cure to depression or anxiety caused by obsessing over a physical imperfection (real or imagined). Yet, no cosmetic procedure can cure this disorder, because it is caused by a mental condition, rather than a physical one.
It is very important to consider how you feel about your body if you are thinking about plastic surgery. Individuals with BDD are not good candidates for plastic surgery. If you find that small imperfections about your body are causing you emotional distress, and you are hoping to find happiness through plastic surgery, you should discuss this with your doctor. Most plastic surgeons will spend time discussing your reasons for electing cosmetic surgery, and ask you questions to better understand your mental state. Plastic surgeons become experienced in turning away patients who are seeking cosmetic procedures due to BDD.
Body dysmorphic disorder is more than mild annoyance or dissatisfaction with a physical feature. BDD often impairs social, occupational, or other areas of functioning. Because plastic surgery cannot solve BDD, it is recommended that patients faced with this difficult condition seek psychological treatment. However, many individuals with BDD will not acknowledge the disorder, which can make it difficult to treat.
Individuals considering plastic surgery should be honest with themselves. When considering plastic surgery, evaluate your reasons for doing it. Plastic surgery will not make you happy in and of itself. It can help boost confidence by enhancing your appearance. But results will not achieve “perfection”—after all, what is perfect? The answer will vary depending on who you talk to. Plastic surgery should never be a substitute for inner perspective and self respect.
Good candidates for plastic surgery have a mild annoyance about a specific area of the body, but it does not impede their social interactions, career, or daily activities. These individuals usually have a clear idea of how they would like a specific area to look, and understand that plastic surgery can help, but might not create a physical “ideal.” Good candidates for plastic surgery have a healthy self image, and can point to other of their physical features they like or feel satisfied with.
It’s a good idea to talk to others, especially your doctor, about the way you view yourself. Your doctor can help you gain perspective about your features. Maybe you think your nose is awful, but in reality, it’s very attractive compared to other noses. Your doctor will also have experience with individuals with BDD. Most plastic surgeons will turn these candidates away, because patients looking to solve BDD will not find a solution through cosmetic procedures.
To further assess whether you're a legitimate candidate for plastic surgery, you can speak with one of our trusted, board-certified plastic surgeons. Plastic Surgery Portal will schedule your personal consultation right away, and you can discuss your areas of concern with an experienced professional.
If you or your doctor think you might be suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder, there are many online support groups available. Even if you don't think you have BDD, always be sure to talk about your self image with family and trusted friends before making the major investment of cosmetic surgery.