A 40-year-old woman in Brazil developed kleptomania for a few weeks after she had cosmetic surgery, according to a new case report.
Dr. Fabio Nascimento, co-author of the case report and a neurologist at Toronto Western Hospital in Canada, said that the woman’s symptoms likely occurred because of inadequate blood flow to the brain during the surgical procedure (or right after the surgery ended).
According to Dr. Nascimento, the woman’s brain might have been deprived of nutrients and oxygen due to restricted blood flow – which eventually led to brain damage. The damage interfered with certain brain circuits that caused the woman’s neurological symptoms after surgery, he explained.
The woman had her cosmetic procedures done in 2013. They included: breast augmentation, liposuction, an arm lift, and a tummy tuck. Right after the surgery, the woman felt extremely disoriented, drowsy and apathetic; she also experienced memory lapses.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed that the woman had a brain injury caused by lack of oxygen to the caudate nucleus – a region in the brain which is involved in memory and learning – and decreased blood flow to various parts of her brain. The case report stated that the woman had no previous history of substance abuse or mental health problems.
A few days after being released from the hospital, the Brazilian woman showed symptoms of kleptomania, like the urge to steal and then a sense of relief after doing so, according to Dr. Nascimento. Her kleptomania episodes lasted for about a couple of weeks.
One day, the woman felt an impulse to steal an item from a store even though she had money to pay for it. She took the item, put it in her purse, and then left the store, Nascimento said. However, a store security guard saw the woman steal and caught her before she managed to get to her car. The woman was taken to the police station, and was released after doctors explained the police commissioner that she had a psychiatric condition.
The woman’s brain injury healed on its own, and she also did not need treatment for her temporary kleptomania, according to Dr. Nascimento.
Surgical procedures can sometimes lead to psychiatric or neurological symptoms. Dr. Nascimento said that they can be more common, such as temporary memory problems, or quite abnormal, like temporary episodes of kleptomania.
The case report was published on Friday (Jan. 29) in the online journal BMJ Case Reports.
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