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Cosmetic Surgery Addiction

Cosmetic Surgery Addiction

Plastic surgery has become a staple in popular culture. From Hollywood stars to everyday citizens, it seems to be an expensive but easy way to "fix" a subtle physical flaw. However, for some, plastic surgery is more than that. For some, it is an obsession. Here, we take a look at what is known as Cosmetic Surgery Addiction.

What is Cosmetic Surgery Addiction?

Cosmetic Surgery Addiction is the feeling of a constant desire to receive cosmetic, or plastic, surgery, often to the point of excess. While most plastic surgery procedures are designed to maintain the body’s natural appearance, addicts are usually physically distinguishable because of the extreme and unnatural appearance-altering manner that results from excessive plastic surgery.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Cosmetic surgery addicts often suffer from a disorder known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder, which is defined as a mental illness that causes one to be fixated on one’s own minor or imagined physical flaw. While this flaw is often insignificant or nonexistent, a person will be mentally consumed and obsessed by this flaw for hours a day. Specific symptoms of BDD include:

  • Obsessive thoughts about one or more perceived body defects
  • Constantly low self-esteem
  • Obsessive and/or compulsive behaviors relating to perceived body defects
  • Withdrawal from society and family
  • Strong feelings of shame and self-consciousness
  • Envy over the physical appearance of others

How Much is Too Much?

Many experts feel that the best plastic surgery is minor and unnoticeable. When the appearance of a patient begins to look fake or unnatural is when it becomes too much. Cosmetic surgery addicts, however, feel a constant need to adjust and “perfect” their appearance through plastic surgery. While in most cases a surgeon can recommend to their patient that they not undergo any more procedures, it is usually ultimately up to the patient to accept or reject this recommendation. And, if this patient is a cosmetic surgery addict, they will likely reject it.

Cosmetic Surgery Statistics from The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery:
  • From 1997 to 2010, the increase in cosmetic procedures has increased by over 155%.
  • The top five cosmetic procedures (2010): breast augmentation, liposuction, eyelid surgery, abdominoplasty, and breast reduction.
  • Women had 92% of the total cosmetic procedures in 2010. 


If a plastic surgeon identifies Cosmetic Surgery Addiction in a patient, they will usually advise psychological counseling before surgery. If it is determined that the patient does indeed need psychological treatment, there are a variety of methods available, including cognitive behavioral therapy and medications. If you or someone you know suffers from this addiction, please seek help.

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