Rhinoplasty patients may have mirror disease
August 23, 2011
Call it a beak, bill, schnoz, smeller, snout, sniffer, snoot. We’ve all got one.
But, now, a new study suggests that many people who complain about the size or shape of their noses show signs of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), spending their days preoccupied with slight or imagined defects in their appearance. Because of their inability to pass a mirror without checking out the hated feature, you can say these folks have “mirror disease.”
A study of 266 patients evaluated by plastic surgeons for rhinoplasty (nose job) procedures in Belgium, over a 16-month period, were given a questionnaire to assess symptoms of BDD. According to the New York Times, July 27, 2011, study results showed that “among those seeking rhinoplasty for medical reasons — to correct a breathing problem, for example — only 2 percent of patients exhibited symptoms of the disorder. But among patients seeking to change their noses for cosmetic reasons, 43 percent showed signs of the disorder, expressing an unreasonable preoccupation and distress about their bodies despite having noses that were relatively normal.”
This study shows a surprisingly high rate of BDD among nose-job patients. Previous studies have shown that about 10 percent of all patients seeking plastic surgery have BDD.
But not everybody who thinks they have a big nose has BDD. What you have to look at is whether or not this preoccupation interferes with love and work. Does this patient struggle to maintain social relationships? Does this patient have difficulty getting to work and remaining employed?
According to David B. Sarwer, associate professor of psychology at the Center for Human Appearance at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, patients with BDD are “…chronically thinking about their nose, checking in the mirror or a reflective surface, or they avoid situations where people can see their profile.”
A Seattle plastic surgeon advises doctors not to operate on these patients because chances are they will not be satisfied with the results. He finds these patients easy to spot, “Often patients who have this can’t stop looking at themselves. When I’ve encountered cases like this, I’ve found it difficult to make eye contact. They tend to stand in the mirror in the examination room and look at themselves throughout the exam.”
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world's leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body. ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; Active Members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and nonsurgical aesthetic procedures. International Active Members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.
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