Cosmetic addictions in spotlight

Fox Sports announcer Joe Buck recently shared that he had an addiction to hair plugs, and it almost cost him his career.

In an exclusive with Sports Illustrated and in his upcoming memoir, Buck described the overwhelming fear he had of losing his hair. The possibility of balding so consumed him that in 1993, at age 24, he had his first hair-replacement treatment. He wrote in the book that, after the procedure, “I, Joseph Francis Buck, became a hair-plug addict.”

Hair-replacement treatment and other cosmetic or appearance-altering procedures may seem commonplace in modern entertainment, and experts have said the treatments indeed can become debilitating addictions. But how do these addictions begin, and what can be done to treat them?

It’s possible that a tremendous fear of hair loss and an addiction to hair plugs could be linked to both a self-esteem issue and external social influences, said sociologist Amnon Jacob Suissa, a professor at the University of Quebec in Montreal who has studied different forms of addiction, including cosmetic surgery. Suissa has not treated Buck.

This type of addiction is linked to an intimate self-perception, or what the person thinks when looking at himself or herself, Suissa said. But it can also be influenced by media, and for Buck, being in the public eye could have exacerbated his already skewed self-image.