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Plastic Surgery Addiction - Signs, Risks, and Prevention

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Plastic surgery addiction is an unhealthy obsession commonly seen in people who constantly want to change their looks. Read this article to learn more.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Basti Bharatesh Devendra

Published At November 30, 2022
Reviewed AtJanuary 19, 2023


Plastic surgery aims to repair or restore a person's physical appearance or the functions of some parts of the body. It is not necessarily cosmetic surgery every time. The former aims to restore the appearance, whereas the latter restores the appearance but focuses more on aesthetics. Plastic surgery is mainly a type of reconstructive surgery that includes skin grafts and the repair of specific congenital disabilities. Though plastic surgery can improve a patient's quality of life, it can be a slippery slope as a person can become addicted to it. Once people become addicted to plastic surgery, they get a constant urge to change their appearance, which can cause health hazards.

What Is Plastic Surgery Addiction?

Plastic surgery addiction is a behavioral disorder wherein a person wants to change his physical appearance repeatedly. Initially, this addiction might appear to be a healthy habit. It usually starts with one surgery where a patient has a positive experience. As a result, the person starts feeling good and confident about his body and wants to undergo surgery again. Hence, the patient keeps on consulting the doctor to schedule his surgeries. As a result, a point comes wherein the person becomes least concerned about his health and just wants to improve his appearance. Plastic surgery addiction causes health hazards and urges a person to spend huge amounts of money, time, and resources. Also, the patient has unrealistic expectations and is never happy with the surgery results. The person addicted to plastic surgery believes the following:

  • His appearance will change only if he gets lots of surgeries done.

  • The surgery will completely change his look.

  • The urge to undergo more surgeries increases if he does not get the desired results.

  • The patient tends to meet with multiple doctors if one of them refuses surgery.

  • Spends a large amount of money on multiple surgeries.

What Are the Signs of Plastic Surgery Addiction?

Plastic surgery addiction is a prevalent disorder because nowadays, people are very much concerned about their looks. The signs of plastic surgery addiction are listed below:

  • Undergoing Multiple Procedures: People addicted to plastic surgery might schedule different appointments for surgeries because they have a lot on their wishlists. They consider plastic surgery to be a never-ending journey of their life and tend to waste a lot of money.

  • Approaching Multiple Surgeons: Sometimes, surgeons are reluctant to perform multiple surgeries on a single patient to avoid plastic surgery addiction. As a result, the patient approaches a new surgeon to schedule appointments.

  • Waiting for the Next Surgery: People addicted to plastic surgery are never satisfied with the outcomes and want to undergo the other surgery immediately. They feel that the surgery is an ongoing affair and a part of their lives.

  • Thinking About Fixing the Body Parts: Everyone is unique, and no one is inherently perfect. However, people addicted to plastic surgery consider their bodies machines and their organs parts of a machine. As a result, they are always in a mood to get their organs fixed or repaired surgically. It is normal for the body's organs to change with aging.

  • Unrealistic Expectations: People addicted to plastic surgery want their bodies to look like the bodies of their favorite celebrities and have unrealistic expectations from the procedure, which is wrong. They become disappointed when they do not get the desired outcomes from the surgery.

What Is the Role of Body Dysmorphic Disorder in Plastic Surgery Addiction?

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a psychological condition wherein a person constantly thinks about the flaws in his body. Though the flaw may be minor and not visible to others, the patient remains depressed, embarrassed, anxious, and ashamed of interacting with others. A person with body dysmorphic disorder constantly focuses on appearance and body image, repeatedly checks in the mirror, and seeks opinions from others regarding the body. People with this disorder tend to undergo innumerable cosmetic procedures to fix their flaws, which can cause distress and wastage of economic resources. The disorder has been observed in only one to two percent of the general population. However, studies report that people with plastic surgery addiction are at 15 times higher risk than the ones who did not undergo plastic surgery. People with BDD tend to shift their focus toward plastic surgeries and never get satisfied with the outcomes.

What Are Some of the Risks of Plastic Surgery Addiction?

Patients who constantly devote their time to surgeries do not care for their health. They miss their exercises and spend less time with their loved ones. As a result, they stay depressed and anxious, deteriorating their mental health. In addition, they tend to lose their loved ones because their focus constantly lies on the outcomes of the surgery. People with plastic surgery addiction tend to risk their mental, emotional, and social health. As a result, they suffer from the following complications:

  1. Bleeding.

  2. Infections.

  3. Formation of scar tissues.

  4. Bruising.

  5. Problems in wound healing.

  6. Complications can occur at the injection site due to the local anesthetic solution.

How to Overcome Plastic Surgery Addiction?

The first and foremost thing that the patient needs to realize is that rather than the outer looks or beauty, what matters the most is the inner beauty. Patients can consult a doctor to treat depression and anxiety associated with BDD. This is because BDD is the root cause of plastic surgery addiction. Cognitive behavior therapy is the most common technique to help patients eliminate plastic surgery addiction. This therapy aims to explain to the patient that his thoughts and behavior are connected. Hence, if the patient thinks positively, his behavior will automatically improve. Though medications are not available in the medical literature to treat plastic surgery addictions, the doctor might sometimes recommend antidepressants to reduce the symptoms like obsessive thoughts, anxiety, depression, and compulsive behavior. However, the treatment will only be effective when the patient has honest conversations with his doctor and does not feel embarrassed.

How to Prevent Plastic Surgery Addiction?

Plastic surgery addiction can have a negative impact on the patient's health. Hence, the issue must be addressed at the earliest to avoid possible complications. So, to prevent plastic surgery addiction, it is important to discern its cause. In most cases, the most probable cause is BDD, which must be treated soon. Patients who do not have BDD but still are addicted to plastic surgeries can talk to a therapist for counseling. This is because a therapist will always show the right path.


Plastic surgery addiction causes health hazards and takes a person away from his loved ones. It also leads to the wastage of money, time, energy, and other resources. Therefore, the patient must understand why the surgeon refuses surgery to overcome this disorder. Also, one needs to remember that no one is perfect in this world, and inner beauty matters the most rather than the outer one.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Is Plastic Surgery Addiction?

Plastic surgery is a behavioral addiction that negatively affects a person's health, mental well-being, and finances. It is a psychological compulsion to alter one's appearance with cosmetic surgery continuously. Plastic surgery addiction never makes individuals satisfied with their appearance.


How Do People Get Addicted to Surgery?

People with repeated cosmetic surgeries never feel satisfied and fulfilled with their appearance and could have plastic surgery addiction. Addiction to plastic surgery would result in spending a lot of time, money, and resources on cosmetic surgeries.


How To Stop Addiction to Plastic Surgery?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help with plastic surgery addiction. CBT helps in changing thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. It is a symptom of body dysmorphic disorder, and thus, it requires psychiatric care.


What Percentage of People Get Addicted to Plastic Surgery?

Body dysmorphia is a root cause of addiction to plastic surgery. 2.2 % of men and 2.5 % of women addicted to plastic surgery suffer from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). BDD is diagnosed by a mental health practitioner and can be treated with medication.


Why Is Plastic Surgery Addicting?

Plastic surgery addiction causes various health hazards. Childhood trauma, abuse, neglect, and maltreatment could lead to addiction to plastic surgery. These patients develop a shame connected with their bodies and appearance.


At What Age Plastic Surgery Carried Out?

The recommended age for plastic surgery is between 18 years and 70 years of age. Most cosmetic procedures work best when the body achieves its full adult body size. For males, adult size is attained between 15 to 18 years of age, and for females, it is 14 to 18 years of age.


How Many People Regret Plastic Surgery?

According to research, 65 % of people regretted surgery because of complications, and 83 % would not consider plastic surgery procedures again. Some also regret it because of unrealistic expectations.


Which Country Accounts for the Maximum Number of Plastic Surgery?

Countries with the maximum number of plastic surgery according to 2023 includes: 
South Korea, Greece, Italy, the United States of America, and Brazil accounted for the maximum number of plastic surgeries. 


Can Plastic Surgery Change Life?

Plastic surgery can have positive health benefits for those who have realistic expectations. Plastic surgery has given the ability to sculpt the body as the person wants. 


What Is the Psychology Behind Excessive Plastic Surgery?

Body dysmorphic disorder is associated with excessive plastic surgery. The desire for unnecessary plastic surgery exists because of people's insecurity about their appearance. When this insecurity becomes obsessive, and then plastic surgery becomes a severe problem.
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Dr. Basti Bharatesh Devendra
Dr. Basti Bharatesh Devendra



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