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Cosmetic Professionals’ Awareness of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Bouman, Theo K. Ph.D.; Mulkens, Sandra Ph.D.; van der Lei, Berend M.D., Ph.D.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: February 2017 - Volume 139 - Issue 2 - p 336–342
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000002962
Cosmetic: Special Topic
Press Release

Background: Preoccupation with a perceived appearance flaw is the main feature of body dysmorphic disorder. The majority of these patients seek and often receive some sort of cosmetic procedure, although this condition is considered to be a contraindication. This study evaluates cosmetic professionals’ recognition of body dysmorphic disorder and the way they act on this.

Method: Members of Dutch professional associations for aesthetic plastic surgery, dermatology, and cosmetic medicine received an online survey by means of their association’s digital mailing lists; the survey was completed by 173 respondents.

Results: Most participants indicated being more or less familiar with the diagnostic criteria and clinical picture of body dysmorphic disorder. Approximately two-thirds of the participants reported that they had encountered between one and five of these patients in their practice over the past year, a percentage that is significantly lower than the estimated prevalence of body dysmorphic disorder. The majority of professionals sometimes or often address body image problems during consultation, most of them collaborate with psychologists or psychiatrists when encountering a patient with body dysmorphic disorder, and approximately 70 percent had refused to perform a procedure in such a patient.

Conclusions: Our results converge with those of previous studies, showing that most cosmetic professionals have some degree of awareness of body dysmorphic disorder, although the number they report encountering in clinical practice departs from prevalence figures. When a patient is identified as having body dysmorphic disorder, the professionals use this knowledge to guide their decision to perform a cosmetic procedure.

Groningen and Maastricht, The Netherlands

From the Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Groningen; the Department of Clinical Psychological Science, Maastricht University; the Department of Plastic Surgery, University of Groningen and University Medical Centre Groningen.

Received for publication March 14, 2016; accepted September 14, 2016.

Disclosure: The authors have no financial interest to declare in relation to the content of this article. This work was not supported by outside funding.

Theo K. Bouman, Ph.D., Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Groningen, Grote Kruisstraat 2, 9712 TS Groningen, The Netherlands,

©2017American Society of Plastic Surgeons