Love the skin you are in - managing Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

Posted on the 22 November 2016 at 12:33

I’m an Aesthetic Nurse Prescriber based in beautiful Marlow, Buckinghamshire. For those who don’t know, it’s a picturesque town on the River Thames and is an idyllic place to live and work. I’m lucky enough to be working in a business that I am passionate about and have the opportunity, every day, to meet new people and catch up with old customers.

Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows though, unfortunately, and the culprit is a psychological disorder known as ‘BDD’ – Body Dysmorphic Disorder. For many medical professionals, patients with BDD are recognised by the significant emotional distress that they attribute to an imagined or minor physical irregularity, but in a world where we are bombarded with ‘Insta-perfect’ faces and bodies every single hour of the day, recognising individuals who demonstrate the typical characteristics of BDD is becoming harder and harder to do.

In one 2007 study into what motivated aesthetic patients to enhance their physical appearance, the findings seemed to suggest that the primary motivation for aesthetic treatments was rooted in low self-esteem and reduced body confidence (i); a worrying report, especially when you consider that the American Society of Plastic Surgeons claimed that in 2015, 6.7 million people in the US underwent wrinkle relaxing treatments – just one treatment offered by Aesthetic Professionals!

From my experience in the Aesthetics Industry, many of us would prefer to reduce the appearance of dynamic facial wrinkles and to look as though we are permanently at the very top of our contouring game, preferably without needing to use highlighter or bronzer! However, I work hard to ensure that every customer understands that the airbrushed ideals of physical perfection that we see on the television and in magazines is not a realistic beauty goal to set yourself (unless you plan to live your life entirely through a Snapchat filter).

I work with customers to enhance their innate and natural charms and help to reduce some of the visible signs of premature skin ageing. I have a duty to safeguard the health and wellbeing of my patients, and if their skin ‘goals’ are unrealistic or accompanied by an erratic or depressive behaviour that has an unnatural fixation upon their physical features, I will recommend that the patient visits their G.P. before I agree to carry out any treatment, so that the underlying psychological symptoms of the disorder can be appropriately and effectively targeted by skilled professionals.

If you, or a loved one, are concerned about Body Dysmorphic Disorder, contact your GP for advice and support. For more information, please read the NHS advice on Bosy Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).

(i) Neto PP, Caponi SNC (2007) The medicalisation of beauty. Interface 3 pp569-584

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