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Overcome an Addiction to Plastic Surgery

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 31 May 2013 | comments*Discuss
Plastic Surgery Botox Addiction

Plastic surgery is common in Britain and elsewhere in the world. Many women and men use plastic surgery to help them feel good about themselves. For most people, the effects of plastic surgery are positive ones. It is used to enhance a person’s overall look and feel.

When Plastic Surgery Becomes Your Life

Yet for a growing part of the population, plastic surgery becomes more than just a single factor that improves their life. It becomes their life. An unhealthy obsession with plastic surgery to the extent that a person’s self-esteem is dependent on regular, new operations to fuel this obsession, can have a devastating impact.

Taking Precautions Before Surgery

In reality now, some plastic surgeons are beginning to use a checklist during a consultation to evaluate whether a patient is addicted to plastic surgery. The topic is becoming a more popular one as surgeons are left to make decisions about the suitability of a patient for plastic surgery.

Why Do People Become Addicted to Plastic Surgery?

For some people, an addiction to plastic surgery is based on body dysmorphic disorder. This occurs when a person has an unrealistic perception of their own appearance – one that the average person around them would fail to see.

Such patients constantly feel ugly and they fuel this feeling by getting repeated plastic surgeries in the hopes that each one will make them feel attractive. Sadly, this does not occur. Each new surgery gives the patient a buzz of sorts that is often fuelled by the attention they receive from friends, families or even strangers. But the buzz is short-lived and soon, they need another plastic surgery to relive that high.

Another issue is when a patient continues to seek out plastic surgery on the same body part. No matter what the surgical outcome, they are convinced that the body part is not perfect enough. No additional surgery makes it so either.

A Challenging Disorder to Recognise

The fact that plastic surgery is so highly accepted in our society makes this a somewhat difficult disorder to recognise and treat. When is it too much plastic surgery? The line is unfortunately not a clear one for plastic surgeons or patients. With surgeons profiting from plastic surgery, their ability to assess a patient for an addiction to plastic surgery could also be compromised.

Socially Acceptable Addictions

Plastic surgery is considered one of several socially acceptable addictions. The overall public acceptance and, in fact, encouragement of plastic surgery has pushed demand for treatments. The frightening aspect of this kind of addiction is that the surgeons who do the treatment exacerbate the addictive feelings in the patient. The public further fuels the addiction. They not only accept it, but also give the glowing feedback that leaves the addict wanting even more.

Are Some Forms of Plastic Surgery Worse?

According to researchers, some forms of plastic surgery are more likely to lead to an addiction than other kinds. Botox and similar treatments are thought to be more likely to lead to an addictive response in patients. In one study, nearly half of all patients who were using Botox showed a compulsion to have more treatments. With Botox being a top plastic surgery treatment and still growing quickly for its use, this is of particular concern to those who work in the addictions field.

Feeling Worse

For patients who suffer from an addiction to plastic surgery, the attention they receive is very short-lived. All of the self-esteem issues and other problems they suffered from prior to the plastic surgery will still be there and even more prominent once that ‘buzz’ from the procedure is over. Recognising that you have an addiction to plastic surgery is an important step but a difficult one – even for those already seeing a therapist as it may go unnoticed.

Treating an Addiction to Plastic Surgery

Treatment for an addiction to plastic surgery is unfortunately not as advanced as treatments for drug and alcohol addiction. The lack of attention to this form of addiction and frequency it occurs means treatment usually involves more generalised approaches.

Counselling and psychotherapy are typically helpful as these can help you to identify and deal with self-esteem issues that underlie the addiction. For most people, overcoming body dysmorphia and seeing themselves more realistically will be key to overcoming a plastic surgery addiction. Also important will be finding healthy ways to feel good about yourself. Plastic surgery has its place but when it becomes your life and you feel compelled to keep getting treatments, it’s time to seek help. You can overcome an addiction to plastic surgery and learn to feel good about yourself in non-harmful ways.

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