Reid Ewing has struggled with body dysmorphic disorder his whole life, and as a result has undergone numerous cosmetic surgery procedures, all of which he says he regrets.
The Modern Family actor, 27, got his first procedure done in 2008 at the age of 19, after moving to Los Angeles to become an actor.
“I genuinely believed if I had one procedure I would suddenly look like Brad Pitt,” he wrote in a Huffington Post blog.
After a consultation with a cosmetic surgeon, Ewing decided to get cheek implants – but things did not go as planned.
“I woke up screaming my head off from pain, with tears streaming down my face,” wrote Ewing.
After the procedure, Ewing was dismayed to discover he would have to wear a full face mask. Not wanting to be seen in public, he spent two weeks in a hotel “doped up on [the pain medication] hydrocodone.”
When Ewing removed the bandages, his entire face was swollen. After the swelling went down, the results of the surgery were equally unappealing.
“The lower half of my cheeks were as hollow as a corpse’s,” he said. “I went back to the doctor several times in a frenzy, but he kept refusing to operate on me for another six months, saying I would eventually get used to the change. I couldn’t let anyone see me like this, so I stayed in complete isolation.”
Ewing said strangers would stare at him, and his family thought he was sick. To fix his botched procedure, the actor sought out more plastic surgery with a new doctor.
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“The next one I found was even less qualified, but I didn’t care; I just wanted out of my situation,” he wrote. “I told him my story, and he suggested I get a chin implant. I asked if it would repair my sunken-in face, and he said I would be so happy with my looks it wouldn’t matter to me.”
Ewing didn’t stop there – he continued to get more cosmetic surgery procedures over the next couple of years.
“Each procedure would cause a new problem that I would have to fix with another procedure,” he explained. “Anyone who has had a run-in with bad cosmetic surgery knows this is true.”
In 2012, Ewing decided he was done going under the knife.
“All the isolation, secrecy, depression and self-hate became too much to bear,” he wrote. “I vowed I would never get cosmetic surgery again even though I was still deeply insecure about my looks. It took me about six months before I was comfortable with people even looking at me.”
Ewing notes that over the course of his visits with various plastic surgeons, not one suggested he get a mental health screening.
“My history with eating disorders and the cases of obsessive compulsive disorder in my family never came up,” he said. “None of the doctors suggested I consult a psychologist for what was clearly a psychological issue rather than a cosmetic one, or warn me about the potential for addiction.”
Ewing suggests that others who want plastic surgery consider the reasons they want it before getting on the operating table.
“Before seeking to change your face, you should question whether it is your mind that needs fixing,” he said. “It’s a horrible hobby, and it will eat away at you until you have lost all self-esteem and joy. I wish I could go back and undo all the surgeries. Now I can see that I was fine to begin with and didn’t need the surgeries after all.”