"When a cosmetic surgeon is in a consultation, the surgeon really needs to listen carefully to what it is that the patient is unhappy about, and a critical question that I always ask is, 'Why are you here now? How long has this problem or issue been bothering you?" Roth said.
Often, people with BDD expect surgery or medical treatments to make them happy about themselves and because of this unrealistic expecation, they are often dissatisfied and go back for repeated procedures.
BDD occurs in about 2 percent of the population, and is slighly more common in women. It usually starts in adolescence. Studies have shown that the majority of people with BDD show suicidal tendencies.
"There's also an association between cosmetic surgery and suicide, but it's not clear how many people in those studies had BDD," said Phillips. One of the most effective treatments for BDD is cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT.
"The cognitive element helps people have more accurate beliefs about their appearance and and the behavioral component helps stop the obsessive behaviors," said Phillips.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, often used to treat depression, can also be effective, although they are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of BDD. In fact, experts say there are no approved medications for BDD.
Phillips said it's important to emphasize that BDD is treatable, but it's also a very serious illness that requires mental health intervention.
"It's not vanity. Don't try to talk people out of cosmetic surgery, because they won't believe ... there's nothing wrong wtih them. Instead," said Phillips, "encourage them to seek mental health treatment rather than cosmetic treatment."