Can Plastic Surgery Be An Addiction?

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Reality TV star Heidi Montag's recent announcement - that she had undergone 10 plastic surgeries in one day - has people all over discussing the topic of plastic surgery addiction.

The Story

Heidi Montag, 23 years old, recently revealed her new look on the cover of People magazine - next to the headline "Addicted to Plastic Surgery." Although Montag has called herself "obsessed" with plastic surgery, she denies being addicted. Addicted or not, she is not the only one undergoing such procedures - in 2008 alone an estimated 271,000 cosmetic surgeries were performed on people aged 20-29, with another 81,900 performed on those aged 13-19. And of all cosmetic procedures in 2008, women were the recipients of 91%.

But is this prevalence of cosmetic surgery, especially among younger women, a sign of an addiction problem? Can a person be addicted to plastic surgery?

The Response

Experts are divided over whether plastic surgery can be considered an addiction, although most admit that there are certain parallels between excessive plastic surgery and recognized addictions like drug use. For example, some plastic surgery recipients are driven by underlying psychological desires rather than practical concerns, and experience a kind of "high" from appearing beautiful. Some display signs of addictive behavior, repeatedly undergoing cosmetic procedures despite potential negative consequences such as health risks and high monetary costs. And some even express a "craving" for plastic surgery, planning their next procedure while recovering from their most recent one.

Although people suffering from addictions recognized by the medical community, such as substance or gambling addiction, likely see elements of addiction in this type of behavior, the question remains: can someone be addicted to plastic surgery? Science hasn't yet decided, but pop culture seems to think so.

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