Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is an anxiety disorder related to how people view their own image. It is believed to affect around 2% of the population.
A patient with BDD can have concerns or obsessions about their appearance that cause anxiety to such a point that it disrupts daily life through excessive use of mirrors or personal grooming. It can cause issues with self-esteem, depression, alcohol, self-harm and even suicide.
Researchers at Rhode Island Hospital have shown that out of 200 patients with BDD:
- 31% had sought a cosmetic procedure or treatment
- 21% had undergone a cosmetic procedure or treatment
- Most continued to have BDD symptoms afterwards
Although this is a small sample, it does indicate that a relatively large proportion of BDD patients seek cosmetic treatments or surgery to improve their external appearance.
So what are the implications for those in the cosmetic treatment industry?
BDD Patients and Cosmetic Treatments
As Aesthetic doctors in the UK, an awareness and understanding of BDD is vital to how we consult with our patients and what advice we give or treatments we choose to recommend.
Firstly, we must understand that people seeking cosmetic treatments may have significant concerns about their looks, impacting on how they feel. There can be consequences for their health mentally, psychologically and sometimes even physically.
Secondly, patients who have unrealistic expectations of the outcome – either in terms of how it looks or in terms of the impact it has on their happiness or life in general – are more likely to be dissatisfied with cosmetic procedures.
Cosmetic Surgery Improves Self-Esteem
There is research which demonstrates that having a cosmetic surgery procedure improves self-worth, self-esteem and quality of life by increasing confidence and diminishing shyness and feelings of distress.
Yet where patients have (or are suspected of having) Body Dismorphic Disorder, cosmetic surgery or non-surgical treatments are not a solution either for the patient or the doctor, as treatment is very unlikely to resolve the inner dissatisfaction with their physical appearance.
It is a difficult and awkward area, but a good doctor or surgeon has to very diplomatically refuse treatment where there are any concerns about negative self-image and give the patient advice about where they may go for assistance (usually that is their own family doctor in the first instance).
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For further advice, prospective patients or professionals are welcome to contact our friendly team on 0161 865 1141.