I was driving down the road when a cosmetic surgery commercial came on the radio. “Freeze The Fat Off!” No Pain! No downtime! Wow! I have to do that! My minds starts working. Certainly beats the painful procedure of having a tube suck the fat out! How much? Can I hide it from my girlfriend? That’s all I need to feel better about myself! Wait! Stop! Breath! Reset!
The workings of the brain of someone with Body Dysmorphic Disorder. No different than when I see a commercial for bariatric surgery on the tube and my mind, for a fleet second thinks that’s a good idea for me despite the fact that I would not even been a medical need candidate for it. These were fleeting thoughts that I did not act on. After years of therapy and a re-set of how I view myself in the mirror, my mind processed the reasons for my moments of weakness. Moments that still come now and then. The new thoughts? No one cares. I am working myself up over what It think I need to be accepted. That bullied, fat shamed, thirteen-year-old boy speaking to the fifty-three year old man.
There was a time when that “reset thought process” did not exist. I spent every dime I made on cosmetic surgery to feel better about myself. Multiple Liposuction procedures. Multiple hair transplants. The only reason I stopped was that I had maxed out my credit cards. I was broke to the tune of about 30k dropped. I was lucky. I know people who have exceeded six figures on cosmetic surgeries and still beg for more. If I had had that kind of money, I would have as well. The surgeons should have never considered me a candidate for surgery. How would they know? When I went through those procedures in the nineties, Body Dysmorphic Disorder was almost unknown as a clinical diagnosis. On the screening form, there was a cursory, “bend over, breath deep and cough” question about being treated for psychological problems. I certainly needed to be! I would have lied regardless. I had to have those procedures. They were my road to a new Brian that would never be achieved through the mirror. My shattered image.
Fast forward to “Freezing The Fat Off” in 2014. What would the screening be today? Would a plastic surgeon ask me the standard question, get the lie that they so often do and perform the procedure? Then the next, and the next? Unfortunately, this happens all too often. Plastic surgeons not asking the right questions. Plastic surge ions recommending elective procedures at initial consultations while knowing nothing about the patient. Plastic surgeons taking no responsibility for anything but generating revenue at the expense of the psychologically impaired and vulnerable. Not all surgeons. Many have detailed screening. Asking the proper questions to determine if there is an underlying Body Dysmorphic or other self image issue that needs to be dealt with prior to any procedure being considered. Screening questions that are so innocuous that they do not trigger the immediate reaction to lie. Innocuous questions that a skilled doctor can look at and determine that there might be a problem.
We now know so much more about Body Dysmorphic Disorder and how it affects the desire to artificially change our bodies. Proper testing done by the surgeon can help determine who is an appropriate candidate. Yes, you may lose a big fee but you are now part of the solution instead of being part of the problem. Be part of the solution. Be the voice of reason and ethics in the plastic surgery profession. Save a life by putting down the knife.
Brian Cuban is a an author whose best-selling book “Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder” chronicles his first-hand experiences living with, and recovering from eating disorders and Body Dysmorphia Disorder (BDD) and drug addiction. Brian speaks regularly about his recovery and breaking the male eating disorder stigma.
February is Eating Disorder Awareness Month! Get a signed copy of Shattered Image for only eleven dollars!
Do you think psychological screening is preferable to emotional support given by a psychotherapist?
I think that in a "perfect world" it would certainly be preferable to have a staff psychologist evaluate anyone who wants plastic surgery. I also believe that while of course, mental health treatment providers would be on board with this, those in the cosmetic/plastic surgery profession would view this as an extremist view on a number of levels not, the least of which is the financial bottom line. I don't see it as a good starting point to get a conversation going as it could immediately shut down dialogue.
I think in the blame everyone else for our problems society that we live in today is what your article is stating.
"Plastic surgeons taking no responsibility for anything but generating revenue at the expense of the psychologically impaired and vulnerable." Yes I think as a pjysiceon they should look for some sort of red flags. But I think in the most part their resposability is to give you the best procedure that you are looking for.