Can you become addicted to plastic surgery?

Can you become addicted to plastic surgery?

05th Dec 2017

While most people associate the word “addiction” with substance abuse, there are several other things that can lead to psychological dependence. Addictions can come in different ways, and one of the severe addictions often overlooked is plastic surgery addiction. Whether plastic surgery is an addiction is still debatable, but evidence suggests that it should be categorized as a behavioral or process addiction. A behavioral addiction is a condition in which the patient is hooked to a certain course of action despite the clear and potential risks.

Cause of plastic surgery addiction

Plastic surgery addiction is also classified as a body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), which is a mental disorder that causes an individual to be obsessed about they look. This disorder tends to start during adolescence, and you’ll be surprised to find out that it affects men and women almost equally. Those who suffer from BDD are extremely image-conscious, meaning they are obsessively preoccupied in finding flaws in their appearance. They are severely conscious to the extent where they would find problems with every little feature of their body and try to fix even minor imperfections.

When people suffering from body dysmorphic disorder think something is out of proportion to their bodies or something is not aligned with the latest trends, they start experiencing emotional and psychological distress. They also feel this way if a feature in their body is not meeting their personal aesthetic standards or what they consider to be beautiful and normal. When this happens, they start to think of those features as ugly or unacceptable. To overcome the discomfort, they resort to plastic surgery every now and then.

Plastic surgery addiction is different from drug abuse

It is important to understand that plastic surgery addiction is different from substance addiction because people hooked to plastic surgery have a mental obsession to alter their bodies, but do not actually feel any physical symptoms. Some experts attribute this behavior to the core insecurities of the patients and desire to appear a particular way.

If you feel an unending compulsion to go under the knife more than 3 or 4 times to fix your body, chances are you are addicted to plastic surgery. It is important to understand that while there are no laws to keep people from getting plastic surgery more than once or twice, the patients are advised to think it over and seek medical help to overcome their fears and addiction. Unfortunately, plastic surgery addicts rarely realize that they are suffering from an addiction.

In addition, there are many men and women who are hooked to plastic surgery at an extremely dangerous level. They undergo plastic surgery procedures as if they were just getting massages. The more they go under the knife, the better they feel. The problem is that feeling doesn’t last because they can never be fully and permanently satisfied with their looks. They always aim for perfection, which is considered an unrealistic and unreasonable aesthetic goal in plastic surgery.

What these people don’t understand is that the definition of beauty is somewhat warped in our world. There are millions of people who think they would only be beautiful if they possess the same physical characteristics of their favorite celebrities. This often leads them to take extreme actions, such as undergoing several plastic surgery procedures to perfect their chins, butts, abdomen, flanks, sides, lips, neck, breasts and what not.

Even as the plastic surgery addict is undergoing one procedure, they are already planning to do another procedure later on. The patient simply cannot grasp that there is no such thing as a flawless body. The plastic surgery addicts’ goals and expected results are never achievable, which leads them to do even more surgeries.

With that said, this does not automatically mean that anyone who undergoes plastic surgery is suffering from body dysmorphic disorder or is addicted to surgery. In fact, it has been found that many plastic surgery patients who undergo the procedures are not obsessed with their looks.

When is undergoing plastic surgery abnormal

Remember, it is absolutely normal to want to fix a certain body feature like a bent nose. However, there are many people who constantly find flaws in their body areas that a normal person would actually consider perfect. It is worth mentioning here that while people suffering from body dysmorphic disorder consider themselves ugly, others find them physically attractive. Their perception and obsession with their physical looks actually destroy their life, leaving them to feel unhappy and insecure.

Those who go under the knife many times end up destroying not only their looks, but also their health. By undergoing many cosmetic procedures, they become ugly because the procedures damage the muscle tissue and the skin as well as leaves behind excessive and unfavorable scarring all over their bodies. The damages caused by many plastic surgeries are irreversible and can leave the patients in a permanently bad physical shape.

The risks

Like other surgeries, plastic surgery is a major operation and comes with many risks. While the surgery is effective when it comes to fixing body issues and enhancing the appearance of the patients, someone who is never happy about his or her physical appearance should not use it sporadically.

With the goal to be socially more acceptable or attain physical perfection, you might be risking your life. Plastic surgery addiction is a mental illness, and you should seek therapy or treatment for the cause of these problems. Every time you undergo a plastic surgery procedure, the risks multiply for you. Listed below are some of the risks of plastic surgery:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Hematoma
  • Excessive and ugly scarring
  • Necrosis
  • Nerve, tissue, skin and blood vessel damage and injury
  • Your body’s negative reactions to anesthesia
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Fat embolism
  • Blood clotting
  • Infections
  • Death

In addition to the physical health risks, plastic surgery addiction can increase your emotional and psychological distress because you never feel fully satisfied with the results. Furthermore, it can negatively affect your finances. It is common for plastic surgery addicts to go bankrupt, lose their homes, have an unstable relationship with their loved ones and lose their jobs because of all the unnecessary procedures that they do.

Treatment of plastic surgery addiction

Even though studies have yet to determine the fundamental reasons of body dysmorphic disorder, the use of therapies and medications have been found to be very effective in fighting the condition. The issue is that advanced treatment options are not available for plastic surgery addicts because the addiction is not considered as serious as drug or alcohol addiction. The lack of studies and researches in this area has left practitioners only with generalized treatment methods.

Fortunately, psychological counseling and therapy have been proven to be helpful in diagnosing and treating self-esteem and self-image problems in patients. In order to help the patients overcome body dysmorphia, they should be motivated and encouraged to see themselves as they truly are. They need to be rid of seeing all these flaws that are not even there. Furthermore, the therapy should help patients find better and healthy approaches to stay happy, and encourage them to be present and enjoy their life.

Cosmetic surgery is an elective procedure and you may choose to undergo a specific plastic surgery procedure to improve your body, but you must not get hooked to it because your life and health is more important than your physical appearance. So if you feel like you are addicted to plastic surgery, do not hesitate to seek help. With the right frame of mind, you can easily overcome the addiction and feel good about yourself.

How a plastic surgeon can help a plastic surgery addict

Highly experienced and skilled board-certified plastic surgeons are and capable of carrying out surgeries that enhance the physical features and looks of their patients, but there is another important talent they possess. This is the ability to distinguish plastic surgery addicts from normal plastic surgery patients. When they come across plastic surgery addicts, a good surgeon will help them seek help to overcome their fears, instead of performing plastic surgery on them.

Many plastic surgeons are used to seeing people suffering from body dysmorphic disorder, and they are always ready to help them out. As a responsible and dutiful surgeon, they will ask informative questions from you to find out if you are addicted to plastic surgery.

People suffering from plastic surgery addiction have low self-esteem, which an experienced plastic surgeon can easily identify. Self-esteem is a broader concept that comprises your physical looks, personal and professional achievements, education, skills, intellect, honesty and sociability, but people who suffer from body dysmorphic disorder are fixated only on the physical appearance element of self-esteem.

Qualified and experienced surgeons consider body dysmorphia as an important component to determine whether the patient is eligible for surgery. For most patients, plastic surgery is an elective procedure that they feel will improve their appearance and ultimately their life, but surgeons will still give the patients a chance to weigh in the benefits and risks of the procedure before letting them officially decide whether to go under the knife. They need to understand that the results are never perfect, so they need to have realistic expectations. This is why surgeons will not do procedures on patients who suffer from BDD because they are not able to make rational decisions and will most likely never be content.


There is no doubt that you can be addicted to plastic surgery. There are many men and women who are never happy about their physical appearance, so they constantly turn to plastic surgery to perfect their body parts. This is actually a mental condition called body dysmorphic disorder, which requires psychotherapy as a treatment. It is important for plastic surgeons to help plastic surgery addicts seek help from psychotherapists, instead of risking their lives with unending plastic surgery procedures.

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