Body dysmorphia is a condition which can escalate if left untreated. According to mental healthcare professionals, someone with this illness may become focused on a particular feature(s) of their body so much that it controls their thoughts, actions, and daily life.
Actor Reid Ewing of Modern Family has been applauded for his courage for stepping out and admitting to his own body dysmorphia disorder, also known as BDD.
Understanding Body Dysmorphia
BDD is a complex mental disorder which can ultimately be treated with inpatient rehabilitation or intense outpatient therapy. San Diego mental health facilities and those around the country are sensitive to this disorder and have various ways to help an individual through cognitive behavioral therapy and medication to lessen the symptoms of BDD.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a person with BDD has a, “…perceived flaw [that] causes significant distress, and your obsession impacts your ability to function in your daily life. You may seek out numerous cosmetic procedures or excessively exercise to try to ‘fix’ your perceived flaw, but you’re never satisfied.”
Those who do undergo plastic surgery often have revisions because they are unable to be satisfied with the surgical outcome.
Ewing’s Essay on Body Dysmorphia
Ewing crafted a powerful essay in the Huffington Post. While it painted a portrait of a young man in emotional turmoil, it also raised awareness about BDD. Ewing tells his readers that an obsession emerged at an early age in taking selfies, analyzing his facial features, and assessing what needed revisions.
When Ewing was 19 years of age, he underwent his first operative facial surgery of cheek implants.
In the Huffington Post, Ewing wrote, “I genuinely believed if I had one procedure I would suddenly look like Brad Pitt.”
Ewing explained to the surgeon that he was an actor and it was necessary to get plastic surgery. The surgeon quickly agreed and supported the surgical necessity.
“He quickly determined that large cheek implants would address the issues I had with my face, and a few weeks later I was on the operating table,” Ewing wrote, noting how it was a painful recovery.
Sadly, Ewing was unhappy with the surgical results and consulted with another surgeon.
“The next one I found was even less qualified, but I didn’t care; I just wanted out of my situation,” he wrote, noting how this procedure was for a chin implant.
Eventually, Ewing had the implants removed and replaced the volume and definition in his face with injectable fillers and fat transfers.
Ewing wrote, “Of the four doctors who worked on me, not one had mental health screenings in place for their patients, except for asking if I had a history of depression, which I said I did, and that was that.”
Body Dysmorphia: The Responsibilities of Plastic Surgeons
Ewing made an excellent point when sharing that the surgeons he met with never once suggested he was having a psychological issue versus a realistic aesthetic one. His need for operative and non-operative cosmetic procedures had become an addiction.
Board certified plastic surgeons must be aware during the consultation appointment if the patient is entangled in a mental health issue. Doctors need to assess that potential patients wanting to undergo a cosmetic procedure are doing it for the right reasons. Rejuvenation and enhancement should be attached to realistic goals and expectations. Asking the patient what their aesthetic goals are is of great benefit to the surgeon in making this determination. Another key point is if the patient presents a need of urgency which may raise a red flag.
Plastic surgeons must make certain the surgery is not an act to help reverse a perceived facial or body imperfection.