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Doctors warn too much plastic surgery could cause identity crisis

Lindsay MacAdam
Shine On
April 17, 2012

If you were a fan of the MTV reality series The Hills, you'll remember the complete physical transformation of Heidi Montag, the on-again, off-again BFF of the show's star Lauren Conrad and girlfriend of the much-loathed Spencer Pratt. In mere months, she went from a petite, natural beauty from Colorado to resembling some sort of platinum blonde Playboy Barbie as a result of multiple facial and body reconstructive surgeries that she didn't even attempt to hide from the public. What's worse is that she was in her early 20s at the time.

We all figured that deep psychological issues were at the root of Montag's shocking procedure list, and now, according to a number of U.S. psychologists, we can safely assume that she may also be suffering from an identity crisis.

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Psychologist Paul Lorenc tells the Daily Mail that most patients undergo cosmetic surgery for the wrong reasons, wanting to look similar to a particular model or actor. "They have this glorified picture of this perfect identity," he says, and this can lead to deep psychological problems when the patients discover the identity they were after isn't actually perfect.

Often people don't realize the attachments they have to their facial features until they alter them with surgery, says psychologist Vivian Diller to BuzzFeed.

Perhaps you always hated your large nose, but whether you liked it or not, it was a part of you for your life thus far. If you have surgery to make it smaller, it is reasonable to believe that your self identity could suffer if you end up feeling disconnected from your own face that is now unfamiliar.

"That image that people see in the mirror and take for granted actually runs deeper," she says. After appearance-altering surgery, some patients come to realize "that imperfection is actually part of their identity".

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If Lorenc suspects that a patient might have body dysmorphic disorder or a similar a psychological condition that is making them want to change their appearance, he will refer the patient to a psychiatrist before scheduling any type of procedure.

But since some plastic surgeons are afraid of negatively affecting their businesses, they aren't on board with the idea of making psychological screenings a mandatory pre-procedure step, reports the Daily Mail.

And women aren't the only ones who will be affected by this news. The numbers of males undergoing cosmetic surgery -- especially eyelid surgery and liposuction -- is on the rise, reports the LA Times. According to the American Society for Plastic Surgery, 9 per cent of all cosmetic procedures (both surgical and not) in 2011 were performed on men, which is a 121 per cent increase from 1997.

Would you consider multiple cosmetic surgeries to perfect your imperfections?

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