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Is there a correlation between cosmetic procedures and mental health?

Cosmetic surgery became more prevalent, with numerous body trends and technological advancements influencing the most popular procedures. Since then, millions of treatments have been carried out.

The decision to undergo cosmetic surgery has received a lot of attention lately. Therefore, it is crucial for psychologists to discuss with patients the psychological effects of cosmetic surgery and what may increase or decrease their willingness to have it done. 

Although it appears that not enough is being done to ensure the psychological security of those undergoing aesthetic procedures, it is possible that this causes mental health issues in the patients.

The primary reason people seek cosmetic procedures is typically body image issues

The primary reason people seek cosmetic procedures is typically body image issues.

Body Dysmorphia

Body image issues are typically the main driving force behind seeking out any type of cosmetic procedure. Typically, these concerns are centered on the targeted body part, such as the nose in the case of rhinoplasty.

Numerous mental health conditions are characterized by severe body image issues. Body dysmorphic disorder is the most frequent reason for seeking cosmetic procedures. Body dysmorphic disorder affects 1-3% of the general population, but 16–23% of those who seek cosmetic surgery suffer from it. 

Involvement in body dysmorphic disorder includes preoccupation or obsession with one or more perceived physical flaws that are not obvious to others or appear to be minor. The person with body dysmorphic disorder will engage in repetitive behaviors and thoughts in response to their distress over the flaw.

Some people with these worries are unable to go so far as to eat dinner with their families out of fear of being seen.

Since the emotional pain of body dysmorphic disorder appears to stem from concerns about outward appearance, it stands to reason that people with this condition are more likely to seek help at a cosmetic clinic than a mental health facility.

When people with body dysmorphic disorder undergo cosmetic surgery, they often report feeling the same or worse afterward. They might worry more about the perceived flaw, leading them to seek additional cosmetic procedures.

Body dysmorphic disorder patients are more likely to sue their cosmetic surgeon if they are unhappy with the results of their procedure.

Due to these factors, health professionals generally consider body dysmorphic disorder to be a “red flag” or contraindication for cosmetic procedures.

Still, there are some gray areas here. According to a number of studies, people with body dysmorphic disorder can lessen their symptoms after receiving a cosmetic intervention, but the obsession may simply shift to a different body part; the diagnosis of body dysmorphic disorder remains. 

What about others with mental illnesses?

There is a lot of further research on body dysmorphic disorder, but it’s not the only mental illness that could lead to unfavorable outcomes after cosmetic surgery.

Although researchers have focused extensively on body dysmorphic disorder, they have paid less attention to other mental health conditions. The fact that body image is central to body dysmorphic disorder may explain why it has received more attention in the field of cosmetic surgery than other psychiatric disorders.

Researchers have focused on body dysmorphic disorder and overlooked other mental health disorders.

Researchers have focused on body dysmorphic disorder and overlooked other mental health disorders.

So, what should occur?

All cosmetic surgeons and practitioners should, ideally, have enough training to perform a quick routine assessment of every potential patient. Those who show signs that they are unlikely to benefit psychologically from the procedure should be further evaluated by a mental health professional before having it done.

This could involve a comprehensive clinical interview regarding the motivations for the procedure and the completion of a range of standard mental health questionnaires.

If a person is discovered to have a mental health problem during the assessment process, the mental health professional may still advise against moving forward with the procedure. They might recommend getting psychotherapy to deal with the problem before having the cosmetic procedure.

Assessments are currently advised but not required prior to undergoing cosmetic surgery. There should be an evaluation if there are signs that the patient has significant underlying psychological issues.

This means that we’re depending on the cosmetic doctor to be able to identify these problems, even though they may have received only rudimentary psychological training in medical school and even though their practice might benefit from ignoring such diagnoses. 

Ultimately, because they are treating patients who are seeking care for psychological as opposed to medical reasons, cosmetic practitioners must put the patient’s welfare first in order to maintain their professional integrity and defend themselves against legal action. Patient satisfaction could probably be increased with a mandatory evaluation for all patients seeking cosmetic procedures.

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