Mental Illness May Drive Some To Nose Jobs, Other Cosmetic Surgery

Cosmetic surgery is becoming ever more popular globally as technology and technique improves.

And while it’s less invasive and more common than it used to be, desire to obtain it still oftentimes presents as a symptom of an insidious form of mental illness called Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD.) BDD is marked by social impairment and anxiety due to a perception in the affected that their body or face is somehow flawed.

Previous studies have pegged the population of Body Dysmorphic Disorder sufferers at 1-2% of the population, and perhaps a 10th of individuals who seek plastic surgery. But new studies indicate that the number of patients obtaining procedures may suffer from BDD at a rate far higher than previously believed:

“It’s higher than we thought,” [Peter W. Hellings, MD, PhD, associate professor of otorhinolaryngology at University Hospitals Leuven in Belgium] tells WebMD. “We found 40% had some BDD symptoms, but 33% had at least moderate symptoms of BDD.”

“They have symptoms, but not the full diagnosis,” he says. “I would say half of them have the full disorder.”

About 3% of people in the general population suffer from Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and the risk in operating on these patients is that negative feelings about their appearance may not be alleviated and may even be amplified by such procedures given the nature of the mental illness.

The findings were published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, a medical journal.