Addiction to plastic surgery appears to be a growing trend. To help understand what stems from addiction to plastic surgery and how someone can overcome plastic surgery, I have interviewed psychologist Daniela E. Schreier, Psy.D.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I obtained my PsyD, a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Chicago. As a Licensed Clinical Psychologist I provide multi-lingual psychotherapy and coaching sessions in English, German, Italian, and Spanish. Located in the Chicago Loop area, my company S.M.A.R.T. (Stress Management and Relaxation therapy) Living LLC focuses on stress, time and life management, relationship issues including; divorce, anxiety, food and plastic surgery addictions. I am a progressive therapist working with local and national media, and a published author. I am currently working on my new book. The Savvy Single Mothers’ Guide to Getting a Life with my co-author journalist Ellen Paris, a former Forbes writer. In addition, I am a Professor on Faculty of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.”
What stems from an addiction to plastic surgery?
“Let’s differentiate between two groups of individuals who seek plastic surgery: Group one attempts to correct obvious deformities or highly visible issues such as a severely deformed nose, ears, etc. Once the surgery is performed and acceptable results are reached, generally no further surgical procedures are sought out.
Group two consists of individuals seeking a consistently higher societal level of body standards through surgical enhancement of various areas like chest, legs and stomach. They also engage in minor corrective surgery of their facial structures.
Shared characteristics of these individuals are; high perfectionism and self-criticism and low self-esteem. They are highly influenced by social media, societal norms and visual perception. Inadequacy and feelings of anxiety are expressed through disapproval of their own body.
The first surgery if successful leads to a temporary ‘high’, followed by an emotional plateau, rumination, self-loathing and then a shift of preoccupation from one body part to another. They then schedule their next surgery. Needless to say that modern pop culture and media images of ever more perfect bodies and faces influence women and men alike to reach unobtainable standards. In a culture driven by youthfulness we are not allowed to age peacefully and with dignity.”
What type of impact can an addiction to plastic surgery have on someone’s overall life?
“The multiple implications of addiction to plastic surgery are:
Increased Financial Distress: Generally people use charge cards or pay over time ‘”hence for many it increases financial distress.
Reduction of/Loss of Social Support Network: Often most time is spent looking and planning for and obsessing about the next surgery. This leads to increased social unavailability and a reduction of their network of friends. Often it causes isolation and feelings of shame attached to the alterations performed.
Reduced Level of Functioning: Often depression, anxiety, body appraisal and eating issues are intimately intertwined with addiction to plastic surgery. Disappointments and anger about past procedures and fear about future procedures often decrease cognitive functioning including; concentration, focus, and attention of individuals addicted to plastic surgery.
Increased Work Place Absenteeism: To heal from various procedures patients take leave of absences and that impacts their work environment and performance levels.
Self-Esteem: The level of self-esteem depends on recognition of ‘gained beauty by their peers’ and is defined by ‘successful surgeries.’ Positive feedback will only resonate shortly with the patient who generally does not internalize positive feedback. In case of negative feedback or failed surgery the patient’s self-esteem decreases further.
Multiple Addictions: Often a plastic surgery addiction is accompanied by eating disturbances, shopping and relational addiction as well as anxiety and/or depression.
In summary, it impacts the patient’s social, occupational, and recreational activities negatively and eradicates the life the patient had before.”
How can someone overcome an addiction to plastic surgery?
“Self-acceptance is the answer. It’s a painful bridge to cross. It entails dealing with emotions ‘” every emotion has a beginning and an end. An acceptance of our physical self with all our pros and cons is essential while channeling our anxiety and need for control. I discuss with my patients that we are born in different vehicles. Some of us are Porsches, Mercedes and BMWs while others are born in the shape of a cute Fiat. A well maintained Fiat over time may be more attractive than a run-down Mercedes. It is about lifestyle changes not surgical interventions. Even after plastic surgery, physicians agree that regular exercise and healthy eating habits are the cornerstones to maintaining this newly obtained enhanced body shape. Overcoming addictions happens one day at a time. Individual therapy or coaching and twelve-step group programs are helpful. We are more than our looks hence a holistic approach works best.”
What last words do you have for someone that is addicted to plastic surgery?
“Like any other addictions there are underlying factors for you to be addicted to cosmetic surgery. Don’t be ashamed just ask yourself:
a. What are your triggers (what makes you sad, upset, anxious, feeling out of control) leading you to think about more physical enhancements?
b. Does more plastic surgery really help you? Be honest, isn’t the period of euphoria after you got something done shrinking and the need for more surgery rising faster and faster?
c. Does it impact your social and financial life?
d. Did you try to stop but couldn’t?
e. Is it out of control or controls your life and thoughts?
If you answer yes to most of the above questions it’s time to look for help! Reach out ‘” you can stop it with some assistance.”
Thank you Dr. Schreier for doing the interview on addiction to plastic surgery. For more information on Dr. Schreier or his work you can check out his website on at http://drschreier.com or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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