Body Image and Body Contouring Procedures

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Abstract

Dissatisfaction with physical appearance and body image is a common psychological phenomena in Western society. Body image dissatisfaction is frequently reported by those who have excess body weight, but also is seen in those of normal body weight. For both groups of individuals, this dissatisfaction impacts self-esteem and quality of life. Furthermore, it is believed to be the motivational catalyst to a range of appearance-enhancing behaviors, including weight loss efforts and physical activity. Body image dissatisfaction is also believed to play a role in the decision to seek the wide range of body contouring procedures offered by aesthetic physicians. Individuals who seek these procedures typically report increased body image dissatisfaction, focus on the feature they wish to alter with treatment, and often experience improvement in body image following treatment. At the same time, extreme body image dissatisfaction is a symptom of a number of recognized psychiatric disorders. These include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), all of which can contraindicate aesthetic treatment. This special topic review paper provides an overview of the relationship between body image dissatisfaction and aesthetic procedures designed to improve body contouring. The review specifically focuses on the relationship of body image and body weight, as well as the presentation of body image psychopathology that would contraindicate aesthetic surgery. The overall goal of the paper is to highlight the clinical implications of the existing research and provide suggestions for future research on the psychological aspects of body contouring procedures.

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