The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) issued a checklist of eight warning signs to help aesthetic surgeons identify prospective patients with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).

According to a spokeswoman for BAAPS, the checklist has been issued because of concerns about the increase in the number of aesthetic procedures carried out. The spokeswoman says the number of people undergoing aesthetic procedures in Britain rose 35% from 2004 to 2005.

“For those few inappropriate patients who get surgery at a commercial clinic or abroad, it can be disastrous,” says the spokeswoman. “If patients check that list and can’t be specific about their goals or have unrealistic expectations then they should be asking themselves whether surgery is right for them.”

Physicians say that if BDD is suspected, they may require patients to undergo further psychological evaluation. A reputable practitioner will use his or her best judgment, perhaps in consultation with a mental health professional, to determine whether or not a particular patient can reasonably be expected to benefit from aesthetic surgery.

The eight danger signs that physicians should look out for when dealing with patients are:

• a preoccupation with an imagined defect;

• excessive concern over a minor blemish or flaw;

• a perceived flaw causing significant distress and impaired social or working life;

• a preoccupation not accounted for by another mental disorder;

• multiple consultations for surgery;

• multiple surgical procedures;

• unrealistic expectations about the outcome of the surgery, such as wanting to look like a particular movie star; and

• lack of clarity about their goals for the procedure.

[www.guardian.co.uk, September 22, 2006]