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Undiagnosed body dysmorphic disorder in cosmetic surgery patients

New research has found that the incidence of body dysmorphic disorder may be unknown due to under-diagnosis.

By Amy Wallace
Undiagnosed body dysmorphic disorder in cosmetic surgery patients
A new study has shown that cosmetic professionals are not recognizing the symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder. File photo by Robert Przybysz/Shutterstock

Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Researchers found that plastic surgeons are missing the signs of body dysmorphic disorder, or BDD, in potential patients seeking cosmetic procedures.

A study from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands suggests BDD, a condition where a person perceives flaws in their appearance that can lead to personal, social and occupational impairment, is much more prevalent than previously thought. Patients with BDD have increased rates of mental health problems like depression and suicide risk.

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There is an approximately 2 percent to 10 percent prevalence rate of BDD, but according to study author Theo Bouman, Ph.D., of the University of Groningen, more and more doctors are not recognizing the signs of BDD in prospective cosmetic surgery patients.

"Body image problems should become a standard topic during cosmetic consultations," the authors said in a press release.

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Researchers surveyed three groups of 173 Dutch cosmetic professionals including plastic surgeons, dermatologists and others on their knowledge and experience with BDD.

BDD is considered a contra-indication for cosmetic procedures because patients with BDD are often not satisfied with the results and seek more and more cosmetic procedures.

Results showed that most of the cosmetic professionals said they were familiar with BDD and about two-thirds said they had encountered one to five patients with BDD. This contradicted studies that have reported BDD is found in 2 percent of the general population and up to 10 percent of patients seeking cosmetic procedures.

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Most of the cosmetic professionals said they address body image problems when consulting patients but only 7 percent said they did so on a regular basis, and fewer than half said they consulted with psychologists or psychiatrists regarding those patients.

Plastic surgeons were more likely to refuse treatment and send patients to a psychiatrist or psychologist than other cosmetic professionals.

The study, which was published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, suggests more education regarding BDD for cosmetic professionals.

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