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Is it true that undergoing cosmetic surgery could have negative effects on one’s mental health?

The danger of body dysmorphic disorder can make people more anxious about their perceived flaws.

The danger of body dysmorphic disorder can make people more anxious about their perceived flaws.

It is difficult to determine how many Australians have had cosmetic surgery because doctors are not required to report such data. In fact, the demand for such treatments is growing.

A 2015 study found that Australians spent over $1 billion annually on non-surgical cosmetic procedures like Botox and fillers. When compared to the United States, this is over 40% higher per capita.

There was a 42% year-over-year increase in the number of filler procedures and a 40% year-over-year increase in the number of Botox procedures in the United States, where such data is tracked and reported.

Although there may be a higher incidence of mental health problems in the population, it appears that not enough is being done to protect the mental health of those who seek cosmetic treatments.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

The majority of people who seek out cosmetic procedures do so because they are dissatisfied with how they look. This concern is primarily focused on the nose, which will be changed by rhinoplasty cosmetic surgery.

A person with body dysmorphic disorder may become fixated on one or more flaws in their physical appearance, even if these flaws are not noticeable to others or are seen as unimportant by them. A person with body dysmorphic disorder will engage in ritualistic behaviors like excessively checking body parts in the mirror and mental acts like comparing their appearance to that of other people. It can increase anxiety related to the perceived flaw. 

Some people are unable to go to work or even eat dinner with their families because they are embarrassed about their appearance in public.

It makes sense that someone with body dysmorphic disorder would be more likely to seek help at a cosmetic clinic than a mental health facility, since the distress associated with the disorder appears to stem from issues with physical appearance.

When a patient with body dysmorphic disorder is unhappy with the results of their cosmetic procedure, they are more likely to sue the doctor who performed the procedure.

What about other conditions of mental health?

Despite the fact that research on body dysmorphic disorder is extensive, it is not the only mental health condition that may be linked to less favorable results from cosmetic procedures.

People who are interested in cosmetic surgery may have higher than average rates of depression (5% to 26%), anxiety (11% to 22%), and personality disorders (0% to 53%), according to a survey.

These numbers need to be interpreted with caution because they vary considerably depending on whether the diagnosis was made through a clinician-led interview at higher rates or a mental health questionnaire at lower rates. Some interview methods may be quite unstructured, leading to doubts about their validity in comparison to highly structured questionnaires. These methods may imply higher rates of mental health issues.

Beyond body dysmorphic disorder, there are few studies that examine mental health problems. This may be due to the fact that, unlike other types of psychiatric disorders, body dysmorphic disorder has a central focus on body image, making it a logical focus for cosmetic surgery research. 

The question then becomes, “What ought to occur?”

Every cosmetic surgeon and practitioner should have sufficient training to perform a standard, quick evaluation of every prospective patient. Those who display symptoms indicating that they will not benefit psychologically will not receive treatment. The procedure should be given a more thorough evaluation by a mental health professional before deciding whether or not to go through with it.

This may involve a comprehensive clinical interview regarding the patient’s motivations for the procedure and the completion of a number of standard mental health questionnaires.

even if mental health professionals determined that patients did. In fact, problems during the evaluation did not guarantee that they would advise against going ahead with the procedure. They might suggest psychotherapy to address the underlying issues before suggesting cosmetic surgery.

Since patients seeking cosmetic services often do so for psychological rather than physical reasons, practitioners in this field have an ethical and legal obligation to put their patients’ well-being first. Patient satisfaction could be improved with any type of cosmetic procedure by requiring evaluations of all prospective patients.

The risks associated with cosmetic surgery cause many people to favor non-invasive techniques. A program called Dentox teaches physicians and estheticians the ins and outs of Botox injections. 

There are a variety of seminar locations across the United States, and you can sign up for a seminar online, on-demand, or in person. Please visit for information on our online offerings, and to learn more about our in-person options.

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