Individuals suffering from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) experience extreme anxiety about a perceived flaw in their appearance or body part. These individuals are often excessively concerned with or extremely dissatisfied with their appearance, and may experience a level of anxiety that reduces their quality of life. According to recent research from scientists at the Fernand-Seguin Research Centre of Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital, those who have body dysmorphic disorder may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy so that they become less-fixated on their perceived flaws.
Researchers have found that many patients with BDD experience depressive symptoms, and that many also seek out plastic surgery in an effort to fix their flaws. However, therapy may provide more benefits than any type of plastic surgery, especially if the individual has become reluctant to go out in public. Approximately 1 to 2 percent of the general population is affected by body dysmorphic disorder, but many cases simply go unreported. Recent statistics show that the disease affects over 350,000 Canadians, and many suffer from persistent fears that turn into rituals, and also turn to cosmetic procedures in order to avoid the true nature of their illness.
Preliminary findings of the study at the University of Montreal show that those who underwent specialized therapy for 20 weeks had an average reduction of 46 percent in appearance-related fixations, and an average reduction of 53 percent in ritualized behaviors such as picking the skin, applying makeup and looking in the mirror. Those who completed the therapy sessions also experienced an average reduction of 34 percent in associated depressive symptoms.
Plastic and cosmetic surgeons can detect signs and symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder during the initial consultation. Patients who appear to be mentally unstable and fixated on a particular body part or their appearance may not be suitable candidates for the procedure, and may be referred to a counselor or therapist before they are permitted to undergo treatment.