Body image concerns of reconstructive surgery patients: an underrecognized problem.

D B Sarwer
L A Whitaker
Michael Pertschuk
T A Wadden


This study assessed the body image concerns of reconstructive plastic surgery patients. Forty-three reconstructive surgery patients completed two measures of body image. Responses were compared with a group of patients seeking cosmetic procedures. The two groups did not differ in the degree of dissatisfaction with their overall appearance or dissatisfaction with the specific feature for which they were seeking surgery. Reconstructive patients did consider themselves less healthy and less invested in their appearance than did cosmetic patients. Seven of the reconstructive surgery patients (all scar revision patients) reported a level of dissatisfaction and preoccupation consistent with the psychiatric diagnostic of body dysmorphic disorder. These results underscore the importance of screening for body image dissatisfaction in persons with an objective deformity. Plastic surgeons are in an optimal position to identify body image concerns in these patients and provide appropriate referrals for psychotherapy.