Addiction means to be physical and mentally dependent on a particular substance, and unable to stop taking it without incurring adverse effects. According to American Society for Addiction Medicine (2012), “Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors”.
The addictions are all different behaviors and trends that alter the normal behaviors accepted by the society and that are considered as healthy. Thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are parts of routines and stiles of the humankind, which are changing when the humankind are under the pressure of one addiction. There are many causes of cosmetic surgeries addiction leading to negative effects and compose appropriate solutions. In the specific case of the cosmetic surgery addiction, different factors as social status, idea of beauty, self-steem, and, even, social pressure are its most definitive causes.
According to Berrios and Kan (1996), cosmetic surgery addiction is a type of psychological disease, which makes people concerned a lot with body image, manifested as excessive concern about and preoccupation with a perceived defect of their physical features (p. 2). The patients believe they have a shortage in their body, which causes psychological pressure and it also causes other diseases. Cosmetic surgery addiction often co-occurs with depression and anxiety, as well as social isolation.
Although originally a mental-illness diagnosis of cosmetic surgery addiction usually applied to women, “it occurs equally among men and women, and occasionally in children and older adults”, suggested Phillips and Castle (2001). The causes of cosmetic surgery addiction are different for each person. There is no single cause of cosmetic surgery addiction; a number of factors will be involved and that they can occur in combination, usually a combination of biological, psychological, and social environmental factors. First is biological cause.
Cosmetic surgery addiction usually develops in a movement when individuals are most concerned about the way they look to others. Cosmetic surgery addiction can often “occur with obsessive–compulsive disorder and is regarded as an obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorder along with obsessive–compulsive disorder”, suggested Hunt, Thienhaus, and Ellwood (2008). According to Fornaro et al. (2009), “A genetic predisposition to obsessive–compulsive disorder may make people more susceptible to cosmetic surgery addiction. Other phobias like social anxiety disorder may also be co-occurring”.
Many other life experiences may also act as triggers to cosmetic surgery addiction onset; for example, neglect, insecurity and rejection. According to Phillips (2005), personality traits which have been proposed as contributing factors, which included perfectionism, introversion, neuroticism, sensitivity to rejection or criticism unassertiveness, avoidant personality schizoid personality, shyness, social phobia, and social anxiety disorder. Since personality traits among people with cosmetic surgery addiction vary greatly, it is unlikely that these are the direct cause of cosmetic surgery addiction.
Second, it is inherently obvious that the decision to seek cosmetic plastic surgery is significantly affected by psychological issues. The definition of the term “cosmetic” indicates that there is not necessarily a medical need for the procedure. Certain types of psychological trauma stemming from mental and physical abuse, or emotional neglect, can contribute to a person developing cosmetic surgery addiction. Phillips (2005) suggested that teasing or criticism regarding appearance could play a contributory role in the onset of cosmetic surgery addiction. Social environmental factor is the third cause of cosmetic surgery addiction.
Phillips (2005) believed that media pressure would contribute to cosmetic surgery addiction; for example, glamour models and the implied necessity of aesthetic beauty. Although cosmetic surgery addicts witness some temporary satisfaction upon those surgeries, several negative effects should be encountered. There are many downsides to be addicted to cosmetic surgeries. Health would be the most aspect that could be affected by being addicted to having cosmetic surgeries. There are also many psychological effects that result from being addicted to getting cosmetic surgeries.
Cosmetic surgery addicts might also suffer some financial issues, as their financial situation is not stabled. These are some main effects that result from being trapped in the cosmetic surgery world. Cosmetic surgery harmfully affects genes. It threatens the natural reproduction of genes in the body according to Brito, Nahas, Bussolaro, Shinmyo, Barbosa, and Ferreira (2012); exposing the body to many radiations can cause a lot of problems on reproductive genes. For example, some people who are addicted to cosmetic surgery are infertile, which is caused by the laser radiation amount that attacks their bodies.
Abdominoplasty is another problem can affect genitalia by cutting off some parts of the stomach. The research conducted by Brito, et al. (2012), concludes, “Changes in the pubic region resulting from abdominoplasty may have a psychosexual impact. Thus, it is important to study the influence of physical changes on the sexuality of patients after abdominoplasty” (p. 918-919). Cosmetic surgeries’ negative impact on health emphasizes how dangerous cosmetic surgeries might be. In addition, cosmetic surgeries addiction might create some psychological drawbacks. Most of cosmetic surgeries’ positive outcomes decrease overtime.
For example, face lifting has to be redone at some point in the future, depending on the person and the age of that patient. As a result, patients do not accept the changing that might happen to their appearance after several years of the initial surgery. They may feel uncomfortable and, thus, start looking for new surgeries. During this period, they live under an unstable psychological condition. According to Soest (2012), people who are addicted to cosmetic surgeries may suffer from “anxiety and depression and eating problems”, compared to non-addicted patients who were experimented in the study (p.622).
As a result, their psychological problems might lead them to be drug and alcohol addicts. People who are addicted to cosmetic surgeries are psychologically threatening the culture and tradition of their societies. According to Suissa (2008), addiction to “cosmetic surgery could take specific psychosocial conditions to trigger the cycle of addiction;” thus, it could increase “the acceptability and desirability of surgery in a society that has become more and more tolerant of the idea” (p. 626).
As a result, it will impact new generations, as they would perceive cosmetic surgeries as part of the societal norms. For instance, a 16-year-old girl might easily attempt to have cosmetic surgeries as early as at the age of sixteen if she was born to a mother who all what she cares about is cosmetic surgeries. This creates a psychological comfort between that teenage girl and the idea of getting addicted to this type of surgeries, which is harmful to the health. Not only psychological and health problems would be encountered, financial difficulties might be a serious problem with cosmetic surgery addiction.
According to Buchel (2013), cosmetic surgeries are normally costly. The service of cosmetic surgery is relatively of a high cost. Furthermore, the maintenance that follows the surgery, such as taking care of the surgical part and perhaps regretting the same surgery again, is a very costly and expensive process. The continuance desire of getting cosmetic surgeries would greatly affect the financial situation of the addict. Normally, addiction suggests that a person is willing to do whatever it takes to satisfy what he or she is addicted to.
That could mean losing everything that this addicted person owns. For instance, suppose a middle-class person gets addicted to cosmetic surgeries, this person could easily hit poverty if there’s no control on the overspending of money on this practice. As was mentioned in the causes above, the addict to cosmetic surgery generally has been victim of several mental judgments done by him-self or others. This is the result of structures and paradigms of beauty and body perfection that have been created by consumerism, fashion trends, and social pressure.
In some cases, unethical surgeons and clinicians, who try to increase and popularize their business, advise their patients to get more surgeries. However, the doctors may be unaware that some candidates have mental disorders which could have worse consequences for the patients. For reasons as these, some solutions and mechanism against this problem must be focused in the possible psychological support that the patient need. Even if treatments are difficult to implement, who have problems accepting themselves tend to attack theirs own bodies in order to get surgeries, the psychological support is necessary to use.
In this case Nardella, Sohawon, and Heymans (2007) say “A thorough psychoanalytic aspect of Munchausen’s syndrome is out of this article’s perspective. We deduce that the self-mutilation by these patients to produce some symptoms reveals a severe psychiatric disturbance, even though it is difficult to pinpoint. Usually, these patients are extremely reluctant to any psychological approach, even though it may be curative. When the diagnosis is made, the misled doctors are not always able to propose a necessary psychiatric follow-up.
Indeed, to obtain the best results, this kind of follow-up may need to be accompanied by psychotropic drugs. ” (p. 198). Given the difficulties to find easier solutions for cosmetic surgeries addicts due to the complexity of the issue itself and the other outer factors that affect the addicts, it is necessary to formulate some specific solutions according with this problem. First of all, given the risks that one person with problems of self-steem or other kind of personality disorders face when decide to have a cosmetic surgery, it is convenient that the doctors ask about the mental reports of the surgery’s candidate.
Second of all, due to people with high incomes and with serious and deep personality disorders have access to cosmetic surgeries in an undetermined number, the surgeries should be regulated by medical reports and for some restrictive laws created by governments and medical institution. Third, the part most complicated, but even more effective, it is create, promote, and maintain different educational prevention campaigns focus to the childhood and the different mental disorders in this age in order to stop future cosmetic surgery addicts.
In conclusion, addiction to cosmetic surgery is one of unusual types of addiction; however, it is a serious one. The previous causes, effects, and solutions show how serious this type of addiction is and what consequences it might entails. Health is the most precious factor that a person enjoys. Therefore, it should be everyone’s priority to protect their health condition. Additionally, people’s psychological and financial situations are not some easy factors to sacrifice over appearance.