Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a condition in which one has an obsessive preoccupation with his or her physical appearance. We recently posted two articles about the condition, one on BDD in the media, and the other on BDD in teenagers.  In the final installment of our three part series, we look at recent research related to this condition.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder and How We See Ourselves

BDD - Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Researchers are learning more about
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).

This past year saw a number of interesting research studies on the topic of body image and Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).  One study surveyed over 2200 men and women of various body types regarding their self-perceptions related to weight and body image.  Those who completed the survey were evaluated for their body-mass index (BMI), a ratio of height to weight that provides a range of numerical values for what could be described as a “healthy weight”.  Participants were also instructed to describe how they perceived their bodies, using a range of terms such as “slim” and “fat”.

The study found that only 13% of the women participants who were evaluated as having a “healthy” weight for their height (BMI) were satisfied with their overall appearance.  More disturbing was the finding that only 6% of these women saw themselves as being “slim”.  Conversely, only 6% of the male participants who were evaluated as having a healthy BMI saw themselves as “fat”.  Furthermore, of the study participants who were actually overweight, twice as many women as men described themselves as being “ashamed” of their bodies.  The most obvious conclusion we can draw from these data is that men and women see themselves in startlingly different ways, and have very different emotional reactions to their weight.

Read More »


Increasing numbers of teens are having elective cosmetic surgeries to address body image issues, without fully considering the physical and psychological risks involved. Part two of our three-part series on Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).

BDD - Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Teens are increasingly seeking cosmetic surgery

Our last post focused on Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), body image issues, and cosmetic surgery in the entertainment industry.  While I can appreciate that movie stars and models to some extent depend on their appearance for their livelihoods, I worry about the message that stars’ cosmetic surgeries send to the public, particularly young women who see these stars as role models.  One recent news story focused on the increasing numbers of teens seeking cosmetic surgeries.  The article noted three problematic issues specifically related to this growing trend of teens looking to surgically enhance their bodies:

  • Teens’ bodies are still changing and growing, so having surgeries before their bodies have fully grown is ill-advised;
  • Teens seeking cosmetic surgeries may be suffering from depression and would be better advised to address their feelings about themselves in a non-surgical manner
  • Teens often don’t understand the significant risks involved in having any surgery, including the risk of disfigurement and death.

On this last note, readers should be reminded that people can and do die as a result of complications from what are considered “routine” cosmetic surgeries.  Many will remember the publicity generated by the November 2007 death of Kanye West’s mother from complications related to having a tummy tuck and breast augmentation.  In fact, many people die each year following cosmetic procedures.  One recent study found the mortality rate for those undergoing liposuction was approximately one death for every 5000 patients, while approximately one out of every 350 patients undergoing this supposedly “routine” procedure experienced “significant complications”.

Read More »


In late 2008, the drug Lumigan, originally developed to treat glaucoma, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be prescribed as an eyelash enhancer.  It seems that one of the side effects of the glaucoma drug, now called Latisse when marketed for eyelash enhancement, is eyelash growth.  According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, Latisse is being prescribed by dermatologists, plastic surgeons, and day spa physicians to women who want to increase the length and fullness of their lashes.

Is this a good thing?  One of the most common issues we see in our clients with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is excessive focus on the appearance of their eyes, including their eyelashes.  Latisse plays right into this common BDD concern. Read More »


Recently, a friend suggested I read Bodies, the most recent book by Susie Orbach. I had not previously heard of this book, but even a casual reading of the synopsis on Amazon confirms what we see every day at the OCD Center of Los Angeles. Between our clients with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), and the thousands (millions?) of cosmetic procedures that are basically the norm here in Los Angeles, it is painfully obvious that many people not only dislike their bodies, but are willing to undergo painful, expensive surgeries in an effort to reduce their insecurities. Read More »

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