Plastic surgery addiction is a mental health issue that causes an uncontrollable urge to undergo multiple plastic surgeries. Risk factors include a history of mental health issues, a history of substance abuse and a distorted body image.
You may have a plastic surgery addiction if you notice a preoccupation with your physical appearance, a need to constantly compare your body to others or a desire to alter your body at all costs. Treatment for this condition may include therapy, support groups and medications to help manage the symptoms. Above all, it’s important to recognize this condition and seek help as soon as you notice the warning signs.
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A Description of the Condition
Plastic surgery addiction can start off, innocently enough, with a choice to make a small improvement to your appearance to boost your self-confidence. Over time, however, these seemingly minor changes can become an all-consuming focus, leading to an addiction.
When you become addicted to plastic surgery, you may feel compelled to constantly undergo more procedures, either to look like an idealized version of yourself or make up for perceived flaws. This can lead to a cycle of dissatisfaction when the procedures don’t seem to correct the perceived problem and you feel compelled to undergo further surgeries. In extreme cases, you may even go to great lengths to disguise the changes to your appearance by wearing heavy makeup or clothing.
In addition to the obvious physical changes, there are serious mental and emotional issues at play, as well. You may become obsessed with your appearance to the point that it interferes with daily life, and you may develop a distorted body image or become overly self-critical. Furthermore, the cost of the surgeries can become a financial issue as you may become willing to spend large sums of money to achieve the look you desire.
What Are the Causes?
The root causes of plastic surgery addiction are psychological. For example, you may have an underlying mental health condition such as body dysmorphic disorder or anxiety disorder. These issues can lead to an obsession with physical appearance and an unhealthy need to seek surgical procedures. Additionally, plastic surgery addiction can be linked to low self-esteem and a need to present a modified image to others.
Environmental and social factors can also be an influence. The proliferation of images of perfect bodies in the media can lead to a feeling of inadequacy and a desire to achieve a similar level of physical perfection. Additionally, peer pressure and the fear of judgment from others can create a need to alter your appearance to fit in.
But is plastic surgery addiction really a mental illness? According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental issues, the answer is no. However, the psychological aspects of the addiction can be linked to underlying mental illness and, if left untreated, cause a great deal of harm.
What Are the Dangers?
While plastic surgery can be beneficial in certain circumstances, it becomes an addiction when it covers up deeply embedded anxiety or insecurity about the body. The dangers of plastic surgery addiction are both physical and psychological. Physically, sufferers put themselves at risk of a number of complications, including infection, scarring, tissue damage and nerve damage. In many cases, the surgeries can be life-threatening.
Psychologically, plastic surgery addiction can lead to a number of mental health issues, such as body dysmorphic disorder, depression and anxiety. People with plastic surgery addiction may become obsessed with their physical appearance and suffer from low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy and a distorted body image. They may isolate themselves from family and friends or become dependent on the approval of others.
People with plastic surgery addiction can put themselves deeply into debt to pay for their elective procedures. They may also become so preoccupied with their physical appearance that they neglect other aspects of life, such as their health and relationships.
Treating plastic surgery addiction requires a comprehensive approach, including psychotherapy, lifestyle changes and, perhaps, medication. It’s important to recognize the underlying causes of this obsession and learn to address those causes in a healthy way. With treatment and support from a trusted mental healthcare provider, individuals with plastic surgery addiction can learn to accept and love their own bodies.
Who Is at Risk?
Individuals with higher incomes are more likely to have access to the resources needed for surgery and, thus, more likely to become addicted than those with lower incomes. Additionally, higher-income individuals tend to have correspondingly higher levels of self-esteem and may seek out plastic surgery as a way to maintain their self-image.
Other risk factors include mental health issues such as substance abuse. Individuals with a history of substance abuse may also be at risk of plastic surgery addiction as a way to cope with undiscovered mental health issues.
While higher-income individuals fit the typical profile of a plastic surgery addict, people of any socioeconomic background can be affected. The cycle can begin with a problematic drug prescription or destabilizing life event. The most important thing to remember is that no one is at fault and recovery is within reach right now.
Advertisements for plastic surgery may also play a role. These advertisements often present cosmetic surgery as a quick, easy way to achieve a desired look. This impulse can influence people to seek plastic surgery even when it’s not necessary.
Additionally, these advertisements can be extremely glamorized and don’t always provide accurate information about the risks and side effects associated with surgery. For these reasons, some critics consider plastic surgery advertisements to be unethical even though the vast majority of procedures are safe, healthy and beneficial.
Associated Destructive Behaviors
One of the most common destructive behaviors associated with plastic surgery addiction is alcoholism. Individuals with body dysmorphic disorder often use alcohol as a coping mechanism for their feelings of insecurity and dissatisfaction with their appearance. They may also use alcohol to reduce anxiety before or after a procedure. This can lead to an ever-increasing cycle of addiction and self-destructive behavior.
Another associated problem is drug addiction. Some individuals with body dysmorphic disorder may turn to prescription drugs such as opioids or benzodiazepines to manage their anxiety and provide a brief sense of relief. These drugs can quickly become addictive and have serious consequences for an individual’s physical and mental health.
Disordered eating patterns are another common problem associated with plastic surgery addiction. These patterns can include extreme dieting, binge eating or an obsession with exercising to achieve the desired look. Ultimately, they can lead to serious physical and mental health issues, including anxiety, fatigue and depression.
Treatment for Plastic Surgery Addiction
The first step in the healing process is recognizing the problem. Acknowledging and facing an addiction can be difficult and uncomfortable, but it’s the only way to move forward and begin to recover. Some practices that can help in this process are meditation, conscious breathing and mindfulness. Many clinics offer guidance in these practices with a specific emphasis on addiction recovery.
The next step is to find a clinic that specializes in plastic surgery addiction. Look for one with a team of experienced professionals, including a psychiatrist, psychologist, dermatologist and plastic surgeon. Be sure to find a clinic that offers a comprehensive treatment plan focusing on both the physical and psychological aspects of addiction.
The plan may include cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy and medications to help manage cravings and compulsive behaviors. The clinic should offer aftercare programs that help patients stay accountable and maintain their commitment to recovery.
Finally, it’s important to remember that recovery is a lifelong process. The healing process requires a lot of hard work and dedication, but it’s entirely possible to overcome this form of addiction. With the right support and treatment, you can learn to love your body and embrace its natural beauty.
Plastic surgery addiction is a serious issue, and those who suffer from it should seek professional help to break the cycle. Counseling, therapy, group support and meditation practices can all be beneficial in helping individuals break their addiction and learn to accept their appearance.
At Recreate Life Counseling, we specialize in treating patients with plastic surgery addiction, so we understand the heartbreak and suffering that this disease can cause. If you or someone you love is battling this debilitating addiction, know that help is available. Call us at Recreate Life Counseling today for more information and to begin the recovery process.