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Aesthetic Plast Surg. 2008 May;32(3):473-84. doi: 10.1007/s00266-008-9113-2.

Psychopathologic aspects of body dysmorphic disorder: a literature review.

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  • 1Psychiatric Clinic, University of Padova, Via Giustiniani 2, 35122 Padova, Italy. chiara.pavan@unipd.it


Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a somatoform disorder characterized by the patient's excessive concern with an imagined or minor defect in physical appearance. Patients with BDD often have been observed in aesthetic surgery settings seeking surgical enhancement at a reported prevalence of 6% to 15%. Published studies in the general population tend to aggregate a prevalence of 0.7% to 2.3%. This review aimed to search the literature for data on the prevalence, psychopathologic aspects, and comorbidity of BDD, and to provide an update on current BDD research. Relevant literature was identified by searching the Medline, PubMed, PsycINFO, and EMBASE databases. The following search words were used alone or in combination when appropriate: "body dysmorphic disorder," "somatoform disorder," "obsessive compulsive spectrum disorder," "personality disorders," "presurgical counseling," "aesthetic surgery," "cosmetic surgery," and "plastic surgery." Further articles were sourced from the reference lists of the articles ascertained through the search. Recent findings include the relationship between BDD and the obsessive-compulsive spectrum, treatment of BDD based on pharmacologic and psychological approaches, and the hypothesis that the often distinguished delusional and nondelusional variants of BDD very likely are the expression of a single disorder with varying degrees of severity. Retrospective outcome studies suggest that patients affected by BDD typically do not benefit from surgical treatment. In contrast, serotonin reuptake inhibitors and cognitive-behavior therapy appear to be good practice in addressing the disorder. Further research is needed to identify effective interventions for patients who do not respond to these treatment methods.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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