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04 January 2012

Adults with facial disfigurement adapt psychologically

Adults who were born with a severe facial disfigurement have generally good psychological adjustment, according to a small new study.

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Adults who were born with a severe facial disfigurement have generally good psychological adjustment, according to a small new study.

Dutch researchers gave a set of psychological, physical and demographic questionnaires to 59 adults, average age 34, who were born with severe facial disfigurement caused by rare, extensive facial cleft syndromes.

The same questionnaires were also completed by 59 adults with facial disfigurement caused by traumatic injury and 120 adults with no disfigurement.

High anxiety levels

The researchers found that those born with facial disfigurement had relatively normal psychological functioning but they did tend to have a higher rate of problems such as anxiety and depression than those with no disfigurement.

However, adults born with facial disfigurement and those with trauma-related facial disfigurement were no more likely to have a clinical level of depression and anxiety than those without facial disfigurement.

Perhaps not surprisingly, those born with facial disfigurement had lower rates of physical problems than those with trauma-related facial disfigurement, the researchers said.

Enhancing self-esteem

Among people born with severe facial disfigurement, problems with psychological functioning were more common among those with low self-esteem and those who were concerned about how others would judge their appearance.

That finding is an important consideration for plastic and reconstructive surgeons, the researchers said.

"Improving satisfaction with facial appearance by surgery, enhancing self-esteem or lowering fear of negative appearance evaluation (by psychological support) may enhance long-term psychological functioning," concluded Dr Sarah Versnel of Erasmus University Medical Centre, Rotterdam, and colleagues in a journal news release.

(HealthDay News, January 2012) 

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