Many people suffering with BDD will seek to ‘correct’ their perceived flaws through cosmetic procedures, including surgery. They often believe that ‘fixing’ their flaws will make them happy but in the vast majority of cases individuals with BDD continue to be unsatisfied with their appearance and in some cases cosmetic intervention can actually have a negative impact on their wellbeing.

BDD is a very serious disorder, which can easily go unnoticed in many people.

What are the signs of BDD?

Excessive worrying about the appearance of certain body parts, often the face
Spending a lot of time comparing yourself to how other people look
Constantly looking in the mirror or avoiding mirrors completely
Going to extreme lengths to conceal ‘flaws’, e.g. spending an abnormally long time applying make-up
Picking at skin or body hair

About 2% of the population are effected.

It is a known fact that three quarters of people with this disorder will at some stage seek cosmetic/aesthetic treatments.

As medical aesthetic practitioners, it is important we spot the signs of BDD in patients and not offer them aesthetic treatments or further treatments should it become apparent.

Unfortunately, aesthetic procedures are rarely beneficial for people with the disorder; only 2% show long-term improvement. Most experience an exacerbation of symptoms with potential tragic consequences.

The patients tend to be dissatisfied and are more likely than others to become aggressive, violent and seek legal compensation. They will often request a “revision procedure”, seek help from other practitioners, or even perform procedures on themselves.

It can be very difficult to seek help for BDD, but it’s important to remember that you have nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about. It is unlikely that BDD will resolve on its own so it is important to get help to prevent the condition from becoming worse. You should seek help from your GP in the first instance and they will likely ask you some questions about your feelings and how they are affecting your day to day life. You may be offered a type of anti-depressant medication or cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). Depending on the severity of your symptoms they may choose to refer you to a specialist.

Mild BDD can be managed through self care – mindfulness, relaxation and simple breathing exercises can help to control negative feelings and low mood. It can also be useful to talk about it with a family member, partner or close friend, or if you don’t feel comfortable talking about it with those close to you there are numerous organisations who can provide information and support, either online or in a face to face group session. The BDD Foundation has a directory of local and online BDD support groups and is a valuable resource for those looking for help with this condition.