Body Dysmorphic Disorder - When Perfection Becomes Obsession

Princess 19 on 9 Sep 2011 at 4:35pm

Recently, a study regarding Body Dysmorphic Disorder was covered in an issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.  The results threw up a red flag on why patients decide to go "under the knife."  For many, BDD is the catalyst. 

Body Dysmorphic Disorder, according to the Mayo Clinic, is is a type of chronic mental illness in which you can't stop thinking about a flaw with your appearance — a flaw that is either minor or imagined. But to you, your appearance seems so shameful that you don't want to be seen by anyone.  This "perceived imperfection" can become so obsessive that it may disrupt one's daily life. The research in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, studied patients who underwent rhinoplasty.  They found 1/3 of those patients had BDD. 

Michigan plastic surgeon Dr. Anthony Youn spoke about the study to many news outlets, including Good Morning America.  He said it's from Belgium, where plastic surgeons interviewed 266 patients who came into their offices for nose-related surgeries.

The results?  Among those who had functional and physical issues with their noses, such as problems with breathing, only 2% had BDD-related symptoms.  For those who sought rhinoplasty solely for cosmetic purposes, 3% had moderate to severe BDD.

"Body Dysmorphic Disorder or a psychiatric condiction that approximately 1-2% of the population has," says Dr. Youn.  

heidi montag BDD regrets plastic surgery"People with BDD end up undergoing plastic surgery as a way to try to treat a problem that was never there in the first place," he adds.  "These patients can often get addicted to plastic surgey because they are never happy."

One celeb who famously suffered from this type of obsession and recently discussed what she wished she could "undo" is Heidi Montag.

The reality star has gone on record stating "I was flat and insecure." After her 2007 rhinoplasty and breast augmentation, she couldn't stop thinking about what to do next.

"For the past three years I've thought about what to have done," she said prior to her 10+ procedures. "I am absolutely beyond obsessed."

These type of patients, like Montag, have concerns about body image that "are way out of proportion." One RealSelf member, 4838anon, admitted that self-diagnosed BDD is what led her to a regrettable rhinoplasty:

"I currently hate my new, unnatural asymmetrical feeling/looking nose," she says.  "How can I feel better about my decision, because I'm tired of the feelings of self loathing?"

In the end, Youn says giving his patients and their families as much insight as possible into health and body image issues is the key to a successful procedure - or even halting a procedure.

Unfortuntely, he adds "The problem is that they then turn to other doctors who may be more willing to fulfill their requests."

See more of Youn's interview with Good Morning America below.

Photo credit:  flickr by Diamantes y Basura by Conner McCloud