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My mom is addicted to plastic surgery and it's getting crazy. How can I stop her?

answered 07:52 AM EST, Fri June 15, 2012
anonymous anonymous
Can a person be addicted to plastic surgery? My mom won’t stop getting stuff done to her face, her boobs, her but even her ankles. I have lost count by now but she has had way more than 10 operations over the last few years. We have no money to pay the bills but she always finds money for surgeries. And in my opinion the surgeries she is getting now are no longer making her look better. She is starting to look weird, like a person who has had too much. I have tried talking to her about it but she does not listen and it is always just one more thing that she needs to fix. Are doctors really allowed to just keep taking money for this? Can’t they at some point say that this is not necessary and not a good idea?

I don’t know what I can do to get her to stop doing this. Do you have any advice for me?

William Anderson Says...

Plastic surgery addiction is a new disorder that is not yet well documented, studied and categorized in the professional literature. However, it is happening enough and causing enough suffering, witnessed by family and friends and mental health professionals, that I'm sure it soon will be. Professionals are now looking at it as a behavioral addiction related to Body Dysmorphic Disorder, obsession and compulsion, and perfectionism.

Like all addictions, it is difficult to intervene when the addict has no interest in changing and is mainly concerned with defending and retaining the addiction. Your mother needs mental health and psychiatric treatment. You will need to talk with other family members and perhaps her friends and work to develop a strategy to get her into treatment. You can also meet with professionals at an addictions treatment facility to discuss the matter and ask them to help you develop a strategy.

In the meantime, you can contact the doctors' offices directly. Call all of the doctors' offices that your mother could call on and put them on notice. They don't have to break confidentiality and discuss their knowledge of your mother with you. They simply need to hear you out to avoid lawsuits and losing their license. With what you describe, it is obvious to the doctors what is going on. Those who, because they are ethical, refuse to indulge her, may be able to make a psychiatric evaluation a condition of working with her. That would motivate your mother to see a psychiatrist and that could initiate a change. With those who are unethical and would indulge her, you can discourage this by letting them know that your mother needs psychiatric care and that they will be risking their license to practice as well as damages in lawsuits if they take advantage of her. Let them know that you will be aggressively pursuing disciplinary action by the state licensing board as well as damages if they participate in your mother's disorder.

It sounds like your mother is fortunate that you are there to do these things. Please write back and let me know how things go.


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Page last updated Jul 31, 2012

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