Understanding Plastic Surgery Addiction

Plastic surgery addiction is a behavioral disorder which causes a person to want to constantly change their appearance by undergoing plastic surgery. This disorder may cause someone to spend thousands of dollars on multiple operations, all of which may not ultimately make them any happier. The desire for plastic surgery often arises from the insecurity that people feel about how they look. This is a normal emotion that everybody occasionally experiences. But when insecurity becomes obsessive and plastic surgery becomes the center of a person’s life, there is a serious problem.

As with any addiction, plastic surgery addiction begins with an initial and positive experience. When someone who lives with debilitating insecurity feels better about their appearance after their first operation, they may decide to have another one to correct another “flaw.” As soon as plastic surgery becomes the solution to negative self-perception, some people will sign up for as many procedures as they can afford. Some plastic surgery addicts even try to modify themselves to look like someone else, such as a celebrity they admire.

Eventually a person might begin to structure their life around upcoming operations and begin to rely on plastic surgery as the source of their self-esteem. Once someone has this dangerous mindset, they may develop an addiction and be unable to stop pursuing procedures. Even when surgeons refuse to operate on them, they may find less-qualified doctors to perform riskier operations and, in extreme cases, they may attempt surgery on themselves.

Paid Advertising. We receive advertising fees from purchases through BetterHelp links.

Online Addiction Counseling

Get professional help from an online addiction and mental health counselor from BetterHelp.

Get Matched
Begin Therapy
  • Personalized Matching Process
  • Easy Online Scheduling
  • 30,000+ Licensed Therapists


What Are The Risks Of Plastic Surgery?

Plastic surgery is typically intended to enhance and improve certain features of the body. Therefore the purpose of plastic surgery is to make someone feel more attractive and confident. In a medical sense, most plastic surgery is not necessary — although there are medical benefits to some procedures, such as rhinoplasty and cleft palate repair. Plastic surgery should always be a free choice. Aside from the risks that accompany any medical operation, there is nothing inherently wrong with plastic surgery as long as the surgeon is competent and the patient has realistic expectations.

One plastic surgery operation might yield a positive result, but multiple operations could have unintended consequences. Some of the risks of plastic surgery include:

  • Blood clots
  • Scars, bruises, and swelling
  • Collapsed muscles
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Nerve damage
  • Tissue death
  • Infections, including pneumonia
  • Anesthesia risks (including shock, respiratory failure, allergy, and cardiac arrest)

Many people who have plastic surgery regret it later because they are not satisfied with how they look afterward. In some cases of addiction, people undergo more operations to correct previous ones. Multiple operations, even when performed correctly, sometimes result in an overall unnatural and bizarre appearance.

The Impact Of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body dysmorphic disorder is a condition which causes a person to obsess over real or imagined “flaws” in their appearance. Psychologists consider the condition to be an obsessive-compulsive disorder which impairs a person’s well-being. Tragically, people with body dysmorphic disorder suffer high rates of suicide. The disorder affects both men and women and usually begins during a person’s teenage years and early adulthood. Body dysmorphic disorder affects between 2.4% and 5.8% of the population of the United States.

Someone who is suffering from body dysmorphic disorder may spend hours every day thinking about their appearance or looking at themselves in the mirror, or they may go to great lengths to avoid seeing themselves at all. Additionally they may exercise, change their clothes, or groom themselves excessively. The disorder has the power to adversely affect a person’s social life, since people with the disorder often feel self-conscious and constantly compare themselves to others.

Body dysmorphic disorder is a common co-occurring disorder with plastic surgery addiction. Research has shown that the condition is 15 times more likely to be present in plastic surgery patients. This does not mean that anyone who’s ever had a cosmetic operation has a psychological problem, but in many cases body dysmorphic disorder is likely a contributor to addiction to plastic surgery. Therapy and social support are the answers to body dysmorphic disorder. Plastic surgery is not the answer. In fact, plastic surgery addiction and body dysmorphic disorder are truly co-occurring because they build on one another. If plastic surgery does not adequately “fix” someone’s appearance, they feel even worse about themselves and seek out more procedures — all the while leaving the body dysmorphic disorder active and untreated.

Co-Occuring Drug Abuse

The aftermath of plastic surgery might require a person to use addictive medications to numb their pain. If a person repeatedly undergoes plastic surgery, they may also repeatedly expose themselves to prescription Opioids and thereby risk acquiring an Opioid addiction. Addiction to Opioids, both legal and illegal, kills hundreds of Americans every year. This is yet another danger of plastic surgery addiction. Furthermore, there is a correlation between substance abuse and mental illness. Since body dysmorphic disorder is the cause of many cases of plastic surgery addiction, someone who is addicted to plastic surgery may begin to abuse alcohol or illegal drugs to try to escape from their disappointment with their appearance.

Finding Help With Plastic Surgery Addiction

Throughout the country, there are rehabilitation facilities which offer therapy and support for recovery from plastic surgery addiction. In particular, cognitive behavioral therapy may help people in recovery better understand how body dysmorphic disorder causes their addiction and overcome the obsessive feelings of low self-esteem which accompany the disorder. Plastic surgery should not control anyone’s life. If you are interested in learning more about your online therapy options for plastic surgery addiction, click here.