Every so often, plastic surgeons encounter a patient who asks them to “correct” a problem which the surgeon finds minimal or totally non-existent. This can trigger a flag in the surgeon’s mind that this patient may be experiencing Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
What Is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?
Everyone has something about their bodies they do not like. However, to people with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), small flaws and imperfections in the way they look can actually interfere with their daily lives. They can’t get rid of all the negative thoughts they are having about their overly large breasts or the bend in their nose. They literally isolate themselves due to their flaws.
These patients show excessive concern and preoccupation, bordering on obsession with a perceived physical defect which, in actuality, only they can see. Saying they look fine or offering compliments does nothing to improve the negativity people with BDD feel towards the flaws they see on their bodies. This can totally take over their lives, causing depression, anxiety, and social withdrawal. Often these individuals seek to remedy their problem through surgical alteration, many times shopping for a plastic surgeon willing to help them.
All too frequently those suffering from BDD are able to find an unsuspecting (or unscrupulous) plastic surgeon who does perform the surgery they are yearning for. Unfortunately, even if they are able to find one, such surgery seldom satisfies the BDD patient, who will invariably insist on further surgery after it is no longer needed, or attempt to find another surgeon to redo the work. Sadly when they end up doing this, the problem is exacerbated (think Michael Jackson).
The treatment of BDD is not surgical, but psychological. Sadly, many patients that suffer from this disorder also suffer from other things, most frequently OCD, depression or social anxiety. Treatment focuses on getting patients to recognize irrational thoughts and help them change negativity to positive thoughts.
This Is a Disorder That Can Be Treated
With adequate cognitive behavioral therapy, patients with Body Dysmorphic Disorder can almost always be shown to see in the mirror what the rest of the world sees.