DIY Surgery

I travelled with my family to Mynamar-Burma this summer. It is a fascinating country which I thoroughly recommend a visit. This statue of a woman, Sandhamukhi, at a pagoda in Mynamar caught my eye. I understand that after learning the teaching of the Buddha, in gratitude she cut her breast and offered it to the Buddha. As it is against the teaching of Buddha for monks to accept raw meat, the Buddha declined the offer!

The statue reminded me of “DIY cosmetic surgery” in some of my patients with Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I wrote about it in an article in 2000. An example of the desperate state of patients included a woman preoccupied by the ugliness of  her body who desired liposuction who used a knife to cut her thighs and attempted to squeeze out the fat. More recently I had a patient who had tried to use an iron her face to reduce perceived wrinkles. Katharine Phillips has also written in her book ‘The Broken Mirror” about a man who tried to do his own nose operation with chicken cartilage. I think these cases demonstrate the desperation of some people with BDD and the extent they may go to try to change their body image. Needless to say all the cases that I have seen who performed DIY surgery were dissatisfied with the results and their preoccupation and distress with the body part persisted.

Reference:

Veale, D (2000) Outcome  of cosmetic surgery and DIY surgery in patients with Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Psychiatric Bulletin, 2000; 24: 218-221

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