Body Dysmorphic Disorder

You may be hearing the term Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) being used a lot more when discussions about cosmetic injectables are discussed. So what is BDD? BDD is a mental health condition that affects an individual’s perception of their physical appearance. People with BDD are preoccupied with minor or imagined flaws in their appearance, which can lead to significant distress and impairment in their daily functioning. This condition can be linked to cosmetic procedures, including cosmetic injectables, as individuals with BDD may seek out these services in an attempt to address their perceived flaws. In this article, we will explore BDD, its link to cosmetic injectables, and the importance of screening for BDD when providing these services.

What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a mental health condition characterised by a preoccupation with perceived flaws or defects in one’s physical appearance, that are not noticeable to others or are minor. People with BDD may spend hours each day checking and re-checking their appearance, seeking reassurance from others, and engaging in rituals such as grooming or hiding their perceived flaws.

BDD can affect any part of the body, but the most commonly perceived flaws are related to the skin, hair, nose, and weight. This condition is often accompanied by anxiety, depression, and social isolation, and can significantly impair an individual’s daily functioning, including work, school, and relationships.

Cosmetic injectables, including wrinkle relaxers and dermal fillers, are often sought out by individuals with BDD in an attempt to address their perceived flaws. However, these procedures may not effectively address the underlying psychological distress associated with BDD, and in some cases, can even exacerbate the condition.

Studies have shown that individuals with BDD who undergo cosmetic procedures may experience worsened symptoms of BDD, as well as an increased likelihood of seeking out additional procedures. In one study, researchers found that 33% of individuals with BDD who underwent cosmetic procedures experienced an exacerbation of their symptoms, while 75% continued to seek out cosmetic procedures despite ongoing distress. However, some studies suggest that it be beneficial in some instances. Therefore, it’s a very individual treatment process, one that requires the help from properly trained mental health professionals, and which requires a referral from a general practitioner. I want to make it clear that like all health professionals we do not want to intentionally cause detriment to our client, it’s not within our culture or within my own personal beliefs.

Screening for BDD in cosmetic injectable services

Given the link between BDD and cosmetic procedures, including cosmetic injectables, it is important for us to screen for this condition prior to providing these services. Some changes introduced by APHRA will be formalising this screening process from July 2023. Screening for BDD can help identify individuals who may be at risk for worsened symptoms, and can inform treatment decisions that are in the best interest of the patient’s mental health. So, what are these tools? There are several screening tools available to assess for BDD, including the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Examination (BDDE) and the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale Modified for Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD-YBOCS). One thing that is certain though is that screening for BDD will help us to safely manage patient expectations and provide appropriate counselling prior to providing cosmetic injectable services.

Those affected may require regular check-ins to monitor patient’s psychological well-being, with referrals provided for mental health services as needed. So, can a patient with BDD receive cosmetic injectable treatments?  Well, this is an individual assessment and will depend on the patients need, but will require a safety plan from the client’s mental health provider to ensure no detriment occurs. To learn more about BDD check out expert psychologist Dr Toni Pikoos published articles here.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a mental health condition characterized by a preoccupation with perceived flaws or defects in one’s physical appearance that can lead to significant distress and impairment in daily life and requires appropriate medical treatments that cannot be provided by ethical injectable services. For those who are not affected we ask you show understanding that our questions are for patient safety and are a legal requirement.

Disclaimer: Content in this blog and linked materials is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. If you or any other person has a medical concern, professional medical treatment should be sought. Call your doctor or emergency services immediately if you believe you have a medical emergency.