The Ins and Outs of Plastic Surgery Addiction

While many people turn to plastic and cosmetic surgery to enhance their natural features, others go to extreme measures to undergo a complete transformation. Reality TV shows such as Nip Tuck and Extreme Makeover have only fueled the increasing demand for plastic and cosmetic surgery in recent years, and more people are turning to the pursuit of the ideal in order to ‘fix’ their appearance. From breast augmentation to rhinoplasty, celebrities aren’t the only ones running to the doctor’s office in order to change the way they look and feel better about themselves. Unfortunately, this obsession with tampering with nature can turn into a full-fledged addiction. 

Some experts say that plastic surgery addiction can be triggered by low self-esteem and easy access to plastic surgery procedures, allowing many people to keep changing their appearance at a moment’s notice. As cosmetic surgeons and board-certified plastic surgeons offer more affordable treatments and a wide array of innovative options in cosmetic surgery, addictions become much more prevalent for the average consumer.

What Defines Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery Addiction?

When patients walk into a doctor’s office with unrealistic expectations about the outcome of the procedure, they may be more vulnerable to the throes of cosmetic or plastic surgery addiction.  According Dr. Sydney Coleman, a board certified plastic surgeon in New York, cosmetic surgery addiction can be caused by a medical condition called body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). “BDD affects both men and women and manifests as a preoccupation with an imagined physical defect or an exaggerated concern about a minimal defect,” he says. “This can lead the patient to a plastic surgeon or dermatologist in an attempt to try to change the perceived defect.” (Source:

Unfortunately, most patients are never happy with the changes and keep coming back for additional surgery or undergoing revision procedures that take them right back where they started – so that they can start the cycle all over again.

How do I Identify Plastic Surgery Addiction?

Unlike some common addictions, the addiction to plastic surgery is fairly easy to detect, especially if a patient has been consulting with just one doctor.  The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) has defined two types of patients who typically head to the doctor’s office; those who want to improve their natural features, and those who want to undergo a complete makeover in hopes of ‘fixing’ a perceived flaw. 

In many cases, those who are trying to fix their appearance are actually trying to fix something in their lives; patients who are obsessed with their appearance or seem like they are impossible to please may need to seek counseling before undergoing any type of surgery. Common signs of plastic surgery addiction include:

  • Preoccupation with a perceived flaw
  • Obsession with ‘trying’ the latest treatment or procedure
  • Increased need to consult with different physicians and doctors
  • Obsession with celebrity plastic surgeries
  • Prioritizing plastic surgery procedures in the personal budget

Am I Being Realistic About Plastic Surgery?

Being realistic about outcomes and expectations about a specific procedure is the result of continual research and a formal consultation with a doctor.  No matter what type of procedure a patient is considering, there is a wealth of information available that can help educate the patient about the risks and benefits of the procedure, and reviewing common outcomes with before and after galleries can help many gain an accurate and realistic representation of what they can expect.