Plastic Surgery Addiction: A Doctor’s Responsibility

Plastic Surgery Addiction: A Doctor's Responsibility

My passion as a plastic surgeon is to use my training and experience to help fulfill the cosmetic goals of my patients in a way that looks natural. At my plastic surgery practice in Naples, I work hard to form lasting partnerships that are based on trust and mutual understanding. Getting to know my patients also helps me identify someone whose view of plastic surgery or non-surgical cosmetic procedures is unhealthy. Plastic surgery addiction, a condition called Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is real, and plastic surgeons have a responsibility to educate patients about the condition.

Like other addictions, plastic surgery addiction is characterized by an obsession with something that is never quenched. In the case of cosmetic procedures, a patient has multiple choices ranging from injectables to surgery. It’s important to distinguish that many men and women who come in for multiple procedures over time are not addicted to plastic surgery. Very, very few people — approximately 1% of all Americans — truly suffer from BDD.

For plastic surgeons who suspect a patient may be addicted to cosmetic procedures, it’s important to not provide any services that may cause harm. Because these patients may see multiple surgeons to satisfy their addiction, it’s important to screen patients before performing any treatments.

There are 2 things an ethical plastic surgeon screens for:

  • The desired procedure should be reasonable with attainable goals.
  • Those goals should be motivated by rational, well-considered factors.

It’s also important that the surgeon look at the patient’s medical history, including checking to see what medications the patient is taking. Certain patients take anti-depressants or some other psychotropic drugs and are upfront about it and why they’ve been prescribed. Others, however, are less forthcoming, and that should be a red flag to surgeons. The reliance on plastic surgery often masks deeper emotional issues, and surgeons should refer the patient to a qualified mental health professional.

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