Psychiatric Quarterly

, Volume 83, Issue 3, pp 343–352 | Cite as

Psychiatric Issues in Cosmetic Plastic Surgery

  • William Leif Ericksen
  • Stephen Bates Billick
Original Paper


The objective of cosmetic surgery is increased patient self-esteem and confidence. Most patients undergoing a procedure report these results post-operatively. The success of any procedure is measured in patient satisfaction. In order to optimize patient satisfaction, literature suggests careful pre-operative patient preparation including a discussion of the risks, benefits, limitations and expected results for each procedure undertaken. As a general rule, the patients that are motivated to surgery by a desire to align their outward appearance to their body-image tend to be the most satisfied. There are some psychiatric conditions that can prevent a patient from being satisfied without regard aesthetic success. The most common examples are minimal defect/Body Dysmorphic Disorder, the patient in crisis, the multiple revision patient, and loss of identity. This paper will familiarize the audience with these conditions, symptoms and related illnesses. Case examples are described and then explored in terms of the conditions presented. A discussion of the patient’s motivation for surgery, goals pertaining to specific attributes, as well as an evaluation of the patient’s understanding of the risks, benefits, and limitations of the procedure can help the physician determine if a patient is capable of being satisfied with a cosmetic plastic surgery procedure. Plastic surgeons can screen patients suffering from these conditions relatively easily, as psychiatry is an integral part of medical school education. If a psychiatric referral is required, then the psychiatrist needs to be aware of the nuances of each of these conditions.


Plastic surgery Cosmetic surgery Surgeon and psychiatrist cooperation Patient satisfaction Patient screening 


Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Leif Ericksen
    • 1
  • Stephen Bates Billick
    • 2
  1. 1.New YorkUSA
  2. 2.NY University School of MedicineNew YorkUSA

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