Probably coming as no surprise to most people, a significant minority of people who seek out rhinoplasty — a nose job — have significant concerns about their appearance, according to new research.
The Belgian researchers studied 226 patients (16 years or older) who presented to their clinic for surgery to change the appearance of their nose. Some patients were seeking rhinoplasty for appearance or aesthetic reasons, while others were seeking the surgery for functional reasons (for example, to help their breathing better).
The researchers found only 2 percent of their subjects met the formal diagnostic criteria for body dysmorphic disorder — a condition where a person has an excessive concern with an imagined or slight defect in physical appearance, leading to significant distress and impairment in daily life.
But the researchers found that on one of their measures of body dysmorphic disorder — the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale modified for body dysmorphic disorder — 33 percent of the people who participated in the research scored with moderate to severe symptoms on the test.
The study does not show that most people who seek out a nose job are “mentally ill,” only that on a test designed to measure symptom severity, people seeking out a nose job scored higher.
The study also found that patients seeking rhinoplasty for aesthetic reasons scored significantly higher on the test compared with patients requesting rhinoplasty for mainly or only functional raisons.
In the aesthetic subgroup, 43 percent of patients showed at least moderate symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder, whereas the rate was only 12 percent in the functional subgroup.
The researchers found no significant correlation between age, sex, marital status, ethnicity, previous aesthetic surgery other than rhinoplasty, referral pattern, motivation for surgery, and severity of body dysmorphic disorder symptoms
The new study was the first to investigate the influence of body dysmorphic disorder symptoms on the quality of life in patients requesting rhinoplasty. Patients with more severe symptoms had a significantly lower generic quality of life and showed significantly more appearance-related disruption of everyday living, more difficulties with personal relations, lowering of self-esteem, and emotional distress.
The study did not answer the most obvious question, however — “Does a nose job help put a person’s anxieties about their appearance to rest?”
The study is published in the August issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
Source: Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery