Dysmorphia and Cosmetic Surgery

Dysmorphia and Cosmetic Surgery.  The majority of people who go on a cosmetic surgery journey do so for quite understandable reasons.  They have unsightly bags under their eyes, they have droopy flesh postpartum, they have a crooked nose or maybe an area of fat that dieting cannot resolve.  All logical reasons to browse the pages of our site or other resources to find a surgeon to solve their problem.

But what about the patients for who there is no real solution?  The patient who will always see a distorted reflection in their mirror?   Patients who suffer from body dysmorphia.   Typically they are people with unusual, demanding behaviour, excessive requests for aesthetic procedures, dissatisfaction with previous surgical procedures and an expectation that an aesthetic procedure will solve all problems.

These patients are by no means rare. As much as 1% to 2% of the general population, equally male and female, are affected by body dysmorphic disorder, with the highest incidence in people seeking rhinoplasty, which can be as high as 21%,

dysmorphia expert
Wendy W. Lee, MD

Wendy W. Lee, MD, the Baylis Cosmetic Surgery Award lecturer, said at the virtual American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery annual meeting.  “sometimes, unfortunately, there’s a darkness that drives the desire to change, and that is based on dysfunctional beliefs,” 

“If you decide to do surgery on them, some will do well with surgery, but 70% of patients are dissatisfied with the result,” Lee said. “And in 80% of cases, the patient will destabilize psychologically, and the patient will find new defects.”

Dysmorphic Patients are more likely to sue.

There is subsequently an increased possibility that these disappointed patients will rely on lawsuits. One study of 265 cosmetic surgeons discovered 84% refused to operate on a client they thought of having body dysmorphic condition. Of those who did operate on such patients, 29% reported they had actually been threatened with legal action.

” There is a requirement for more awareness and recognition of patients with body dysmorphic disorder for the benefit of both the patient and the surgeon,” Lee said. “Physicians can quickly end up being enablers of patients' self-disruptive behaviour. The majority of clients with BDD are not knowledgeable about their psychiatric illness, so they will not look for help. It's essential to be aware of the status of a patient's mental health and refer to a psychological health professional if you're suspicious.”

I think it is laudable that surgeons such as Wendy W. Lee, MD speak out on dysmorphia and cosmetic surgery, BDD is a very real syndrome and I am certain it is fueled by the faked and filtered images that fill our IG feeds.  Cosmetic surgeons and national health authorities have an obligation to be more diligent in providing help for Dysmorphia sufferers rather than let them spend time, money and pain in trying to achieve the results that they cannot actually have.