Does Heidi Montag have a plastic surgery addiction?

This week’s People magazine’s cover story is about reality celebrity/singer Heidi Montag’s claim that she is addicted to plastic surgery. The 23 year old The Hills star told People magazine:

“For the past three years, I’ve thought about what to have done. I’m beyond obsessed.

I was made fun of when I was younger, and so I had insecurities, especially after I moved to L.A. People said I had a “Jay Leno chin”; they’d circle it on blogs and say nasty things. It bothered me. And when I watched myself on The Hills, my ears would be sticking out like Dumbo! I just wanted to feel more confident and look in the mirror and be like, “Whoa! That’s me!” I was an ugly duckling before.”

On November 20th, Montag underwent 10 cosmetic procedures in a single day. This included revisions of a previous rhinoplasty (“nose job”) and further expansion of a breast enhancement procedure. She also had liposuction, a mini brow lift, botox, fat injections and a buttock augmentation.

Source: People

Most of us can name people that seem to have overboard with cosmetic plastic surgery procedures. Some of the most notable include Michael Jackson, Swiss socialite Jocelyn Wildenstein (the “Bride of Wildenstein”), and Jackie Stallone.

Whether Heidi Montag or any of these others have an actual plastic surgery “addiction” is impossible to say without having seen or spoken to these people ourselves. However, plastic surgery addiction/obsession seems to be a real entity, with the following characteristics:

* Countless cosmetic surgeries, either on the same body part or on different body parts.
* Obsession with a very minor defect not noticeable to others.
* Obsession with a specific body part or parts of an admired celebrity or model.
* Extremely unrealistic expectations (very difficult to please as patients).
* Refusal to listen to the advice of a cosmetic surgeon when he/she advises them that further plastic surgery is unnecessary and will not help – or will do more harm than good.

Many of these people have a psychiatric disorder called Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).  BDD is a severe condition that involves a preoccupation with a perceived defect in appearance. Individuals with BDD experience excessive shame, anxiety, and often depression about their appearance. BDD suffers often seek dermatologic or cosmetic surgical procedures and frequently use or avoid mirrors. Much of their self-worth is related to how they feel about their appearance.

The best treatment for an addiction to cosmetic surgery – especially if it’s a result of BDD – is cognitive behavioral  therapy. Although research on effective treatment is still limited, serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) (which increase the amount of serotonin in the brain) are currently considered the medication treatment of choice.

For more information:

Plastic Surgery Addiction
Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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