Cosmetic surgeons should question patients about their body image to screen out those with a mental disorder before agreeing to operate, doctors say.
Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor for the Independent newspaper reports on new guidelines issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Effectiveness:
According to the NIHCE, body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), in which people become obsessed about perceived defects in their appearance, affects an estimated 250,000 people in Britain, 0.5 per cent of the adult population. Many sufferers turn to surgery instead of psychiatry for treatment.
The guidelines issued yesterday by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Effectiveness say specialist teams should be established in every primary care trust to diagnose and treat BDD sufferers and the allied condition obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), which affects about 1 million people.
Tim Kendall, a Sheffield-based consultant psychiatrist and joint director of the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, said:"One survey showed it took up to 17 years from the time of onset of the illness to the sufferer receiving the correct treatment ... A lot of people's lives are wrecked."
On BDD, he added: "Cosmetic surgeons ought to be thinking, when someone comes and says the bridge of their nose is too wide, why are they coming for treatment? Sometimes there is an obvious problem with their face but [in other cases] I think they should ask the question."