Stephen McCulley, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeon. MBChb, FCS(SA)Plast, FRCS(plast)

Too Much Of A Good Thing? Cosmetic Surgery Addiction

In today’s society, it is not uncommon for the vast majority of women and men to have at least one physical feature or part of their body that they would like to change if they could. This is normal, but has become a lot more prevalent with society’s increasingly skewed ideas of beauty endorsed by many celebrities in magazines and the media.

Cosmetic surgery is a great way to achieve a person’s dream body; however for some it can become addictive, having more and more procedures to iron out all perceived imperfections in their features. It has been believed my medical professionals that cosmetic surgery addiction can be a result of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). BDD is a mental disorder that affects body image, for example a person having a preoccupation about an imaginary or exaggerated physical defect. This can lead sufferers to cosmetic surgeons to help eradicate the defect-which can sometimes lead to a slippery slope of more and more surgeries if sufferers find more problems with themselves.

An addiction to cosmetic surgery can be hazardous to your health-for example breast enlargement surgery. If a woman’s breasts are enlarged to the point where they are too big for her natural figure, it can lead to possible spinal problems as the body’s support network cannot keep the weight of the enlarged breasts under control and the back straight.

A few celebrities have suffered from an addiction to plastic surgery, such as Michael Jackson. His struggle with body image and extensive surgical procedures has been well documented by the media, and he has been criticised for his many rhinoplasty (nose job) and skin lightening appointments. This could have been due to the pressure that celebrities are under to maintain a high level of beauty, and celebrities such as Michael Jackson and Joan Rivers are examples of how an addiction to plastic surgery can make a face look unnatural, the opposite of what many people believe beauty is.

Cosmetic surgery can have a long-lasting positive effect on a person’s sense of body image and quality of life, however, too many procedures could lean people towards changing tiny aspects about themselves that may not need to be changed-just because they can. Cosmetic surgery allows the individual to have control over how their body looks and how they want others to view it-and this can be a fantastic thing in moderation. Before the decision to have plastic surgery is made, it is recommended that the potential patient has thought about their decision in great detail.

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