Plastic surgeons should take a good, hard look at their nose-job patients before taking out the knife -- and not just to figure out where to cut.
According to a new study, one-third of people who get nose jobs also have symptoms of moderate to severe body dysmorphic disorder, a mental illness where a person is so dissatisfied with real or imagined flaws that it disrupts daily life. The disorder can lead to suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, depression, anxiety and -- as is evidenced by this study -- unnecessary cosmetic surgery.
The new research, reported in the August issue of the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, also shows that body dysmorphic disorder is especially common among people who have had more than one nose job.
However, the study was relatively small -- in just 250 Belgian people who sought plastic surgery to change their noses' appearance. Researchers from the University Hospitals Leuven in Belgium cautioned that larger studies are needed to confirm the finding, "as they will help us in the establishment of guidelines concerning patient selection in aesthetic surgery," they wrote.
The finding is one of the reasons why board-certified plastic surgeons screen their patients thoroughly before performing surgery, American Society of Plastic Surgeons President Dr. Phillip Haeck told ABC News. However, noncertified surgeons may not follow the same protocols.
"Hopefully board certified surgeons are perceptive enough to turn these people down for surgery, but there are a lot of people who are not board certified, and my concern is that these people will shop around until someone will do their surgery," Haeck told ABC News. "The lesson here is for plastic surgeons to remember to say 'no.'"
Body dysmorphic disorder affects 1 to 2 percent of all people, FYI Living reported, and is treated with medication and behavioral therapy.
People with the disorder are most often concerned with their skin imperfections -- such as wrinkles, acne or scars -- or their facial features, the most common one being the nose, according to the Cleveland Clinic. They are also often obsessed with extra hair (or lack thereof) on their heads or bodies.