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The naked truth about body dysmorphia

Most of us could find at least one thing about our appearance that we'd like to change.

A crooked smile, a large nose, a flabby stomach, the list goes on.

Most people accept their various flaws and move on with their lives, but what if that one 'flaw' becomes an obsession?

People who suffer from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) become fixated on that real or perceived imperfection.

And according to specialist pscyhiatrist, Dr Mashadi Motlana, there's a definite correlation between those with the disorder and people who chose to have cosmetic surgery.

Studies have shown that upward of 15% of patients who present to cosmetic surgeons have body dysmorphic disorder.

Dr Mashadi Motlana, Specialist psychiatrist

With the wave of social media, we've seen a sharp spike in the use of plastic surgery and cosmetic intervention, particularly in the young and vulnerable population.

Dr Mashadi Motlana, Specialist psychiatrist

Motlana says for those living with the illness, it becomes all-consuming and the social impact severe.

The individual is obsessive about a real or imagined defect, spends most of the day trying either checking or trying to correct it or cover it up.

Dr Mashadi Motlana, Specialist psychiatrist

They are unable to have normal relationships, unable to hold down a job, complete their studies.

Dr Mashadi Motlana, Specialist psychiatrist

Read: In pursuit of the perfect pout? Plastic surgeon talks lip fillers 101

Dr Motlana says often those with the illness opt straight for surgery for the 'flaw' rather than seeking psychological help for the condition.

In cases like these, she says, cosmetic surgeons should check whether a patient has body dysmorphic disorder.

I think a high index of suspicion needs to be present where a physician sees a patient and this real defect is so minor that it doesn't warrant the intervention that they are asking for or it is imagined.

Dr Mashadi Motlana, Specialist psychiatrist

Listen to the full interview below:


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