Plastic Surgery Addiction: Causes, Risks, And Treatments

Plastic surgery addiction is a behavioral disorder that causes people to constantly change their appearance. People who are unhappy with their body or appearance may turn to cosmetic surgery.

However, they may have unrealistic expectations of the outcomes and continue to pursue surgeries despite health risks or financial issues. This can lead to addiction, where a person relies on plastic surgery for self-esteem and structures their life around upcoming operations.

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How Does A Person Become Addicted To Plastic Surgery?

Plastic surgery addiction may result from insecurity or dissatisfaction with one’s appearance. This addiction may stem from a psychological condition, like body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).

Research has established links between seeking out cosmetic surgery and body image, self-esteem, and psychological factors. Social pressure to meet beauty standards and social media may also affect how a person sees themselves as well as contribute to addiction.

People are more likely to have cosmetic surgery if they have negative self-views on social media, spend more time on social media, or view cosmetic surgery-related material on social media.

While social media does not directly cause cosmetic surgery addiction, it is associated with body dissatisfaction and eating disorders due to the frequency of users comparing their physical appearances with others.

The Difference Between Cosmetic And “Plastic” Surgery

There is a difference between cosmetic and plastic surgery, however. Plastic surgery is the term for reconstructive, restorative, or medically necessary procedures. On the other hand, cosmetic procedures are typically elective and target aesthetics or alter the patient’s appearance in some way. Over the years, both types of surgery have been referred to as plastic surgery interchangeably.

Effects Of Plastic Surgery Addiction

Many people regret undergoing plastic surgery because they are not satisfied with how they look afterward. In cases of addiction, people may undergo more operations to correct previous ones, resulting in an unnatural appearance.

However, multiple operations could lead to unintended consequences, including blood clots, scars, bruises, swelling, collapsed muscles, excessive bleeding, nerve damage, tissue death, infections, and anesthesia risks.

Cosmetic surgery addiction may also lead to drug addiction, as people may require pain medications, such as prescription opioids, after surgery to manage postoperative pain. Patients may continue to use and seek out drugs to deal with untreated mental health issues like depression or anxiety caused by unrealistic expectations or body dysmorphic disorder.

What Is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

Body dysmorphic disorder causes a person to obsess over real or imagined flaws in their appearance, leading to high rates of suicide. This disorder affects both men and women, usually beginning during teenage years or early adulthood, and impacts between 2.4% and 5.8% of the US population. Those with the disorder may spend hours thinking about their appearance, avoid mirrors, and engage in excessive exercise or grooming.

Childhood trauma from parents or peers can negatively impact psychological development and increase the risk of developing BDD, leading to a greater desire for cosmetic surgery.

BDD is a psychiatric illness characterized by a preoccupation with perceived flaws or a distorted body image, and people may use cosmetic surgery to treat dissatisfaction instead of addressing underlying BDD.

Co-Occurring Disorders With Plastic Surgery Addiction

Body dysmorphic disorder often co-occurs with plastic surgery addiction and is more common in plastic surgery patients. Therapy and social support are effective treatments for body dysmorphic disorder, not plastic surgery.

Treatment options include cognitive behavioral therapy, talk therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, and medication for anxiety and depression. Plastic surgery addiction and body dysmorphic disorder feed into each other, leading to a cycle of seeking more procedures.

Body dysmorphic disorder often causes plastic surgery addiction, leading some to turn to alcohol or drugs to cope with their dissatisfaction with their appearance. Plastic surgery can also lead to addiction to prescription opioids, which is a severe and potentially deadly risk.

Final Thoughts: Treatment For Cosmetic Surgery Addiction And Body Dysmorphia

Rehab facilities across the country offer therapy and support for recovery from plastic surgery addiction, with cognitive behavioral therapy and other treatments helping individuals understand how BDD causes their addiction and overcome low self-esteem.

For those dealing with co-occurring disorders like plastic surgery addiction and BDD or opioid dependence, intensive outpatient programs can serve as an excellent option for long-term recovery.

Early detection and treatment of BDD may help prevent cosmetic surgery addiction. Speaking to a therapist or trusted loved ones can also help. Surgeons can prevent addiction by asking candidates to fill out a questionnaire and refer them to a mental health specialist if needed.

People may have a cosmetic surgery addiction if they keep going for surgery without feeling satisfied with the results. This could be due to how they see themselves, excessive social media use, societal standards, or mental health issues like body dysmorphia.

Ultimately, however, if you are struggling with BDD or a dependence on cosmetic procedures, surgery is not the solution. Those who think they have an addiction should talk to a mental healthcare professional, as there are a variety of treatments and therapies that can help those struggling with body dysmorphia and cosmetic surgery addiction.

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