Saturday, July 4, 2015

Body Dysmorphic Disorder - BDD and Plastic Surgery

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Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a syndrome characterized by a strong preoccupation with an imagined defect in a person’s appearance. In cases where the deficit is not imagined and a slight defect is present, the person’s concern is noticeably excessive. Excessive preoccupation with the imagined or minor flaw involves intrusive thoughts about the body part of concern. In addition to daily intrusive thinking, individuals suffering from BDD engage in a variety of compulsive behaviors aimed at alleviating the anxiety caused by the thoughts. Patients with BDD generally engage in thoughts and behaviors related to their perceived deficit for 1 hour or more per day, and that amount has been reported as high as 3 hours per day among adolescents. Symptoms often start in adolescence or early adulthood brought on by remarks made by peers or family members i.e. early bullying and family attachments are significant factors. The average age of onset is 16 to17 years, although it may occur in older adults overly concerned with their aging appearance. Individuals with BDD frequently check their appearance in mirrors to confirm or attempt to conceal the perceived deformity. They may engage in long rituals of grooming, such as repeatedly combing or cutting their hair to make it just so, applying make-up, or picking at their skin. They typically will spend a great amount of time trying to cover up or camouflage the perceived defect employing elaborate clothing rituals. They will seek excessive reassurance from friends, family members, and/or co-workers to elicit placation that the perceived “defect” does in fact exist, or to assure that the flaw is sufficiently concealed. At the extreme they feel anxious around others, avoid social situations, become housebound, only leaving their homes at night to avoid the scrutiny of others. Some drop out of school, avoid job interviews, or do not work in order to avoid public exposure . Patients with BDD have attempted to engage in self-surgery with knives or razor blades to pick at or remove the blemish or with staples to tighten “loose skin". Clearly they see something that others do not see real, imagined or exaggerated.

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