You may have heard the story late last month: ABC’s Good Morning America reported that a full third of rhinoplasty patients show signs of BDD, or body dysmorphic disorder (Conley 1). Unbelievable as that number sounds, the news is based on a study published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Plastic surgeons are one group of professionals who know quite a lot about rhinoplasty and body dysmorphic disorder.
The study, reports Good Morning America, surveyed 250 rhinoplasty patients from Belgium. The authors found that 33 percent of the group exhibited signs of moderate to severe BDD. The researchers noted that BDD seems to be quite prevalent among patients seeking nose jobs, and because the symptoms of BDD include extreme self-consciousness and avoidance of social activities, they also concluded that the level of these patients’ BDD had a marked impact on their daily lives (Conley 1).
The amazing thing about this news is not really the nose job factor. One of the plastic surgeons quoted in the Good Morning America article noted that when you look in the mirror, the nose is the first thing you see. He believes that for some who are unhappy with various areas of their lives, the nose might easily become a target of blame (Conley 1).
So while it makes a certain amount of sense that rhinoplasty might be a common procedure desired by those with BDD, it’s remarkable that the number is so high. In 2005, the American Psychological Association reported that 7 to 12 percent of plastic surgery patients showed some signs of BDD (Dittmann 1). Two years later, an article in the online journal Psychiatry mentioned a variety of studies in the United States and Europe indicated BDD rates for plastic surgery patients ranging from 6.3 percent to 15 percent (Sansome 1).
So, what does that surprising 33 percent figure for rhinoplasty patients tell us? It could be that the rate of BDD for patients seeking cosmetic surgery has risen lately, or is higher than it has been believed to be, but there’s not enough information to make that leap. Looking back at the broader studies, this new one suggests that those seeking rhinoplasty are perhaps more likely to have BDD than people who seek other procedures. This is at least a very interesting finding, and it should give food for thought to those who are interested in cosmetic surgery, especially if they find fault with their nose.
It’s likely that few people considering a nose job think they have BDD. But if you or someone you know is talking rhinoplasty, it could be a good idea to think extra hard about that possibility.
Conley, Michaela. 33 Percent of Nose Job Patients Have Body Dysmorphic Symptoms. July 27, 2011. Web. August 6, 2011.
Dittmann, Melissa. Plastic Surgery: Beauty or Beast? American Psychological Association. September 2005. Web. August 11, 2011. http://www.apa.org/monitor/sep05/surgery.aspx
Sansome, Randy A. and Laurie A. Cosmetic Surgery and Psychological Issues. Psychiatry. December 2007. Web. August 11, 2011.
Reviewed August 12, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Jody Smith