Woman left with temporary kleptomania after brain damage during cosmetic surgery operation in Brazil

A study of her case found the compulsion lasted several weeks after the operation

Lizzie Dearden
Wednesday 24 February 2016 16:14
The woman, not pictured, was caught shoplifting and released when doctors explained her condition
The woman, not pictured, was caught shoplifting and released when doctors explained her condition

A woman who underwent cosmetic surgery in Brazil woke up with kleptomania, a medical study has found.

The 40-year-old patient, who had no history of mental illness or substance abuse, underwent liposuction, breast enlargement, a tummy tuck and arm lift but left the operating table with unexpected side effects.

Dr Fábio A Nascimento, a neurologist from the University of Toronto, wrote that over the following days she “started experiencing recurring intrusive thoughts and an irresistible compulsion towards stealing as well as feeling relieved after the act”.

The woman sustained temporary brain damage while undergoing cosmetic surgery.

The woman was diagnosed with kleptomania or impulse control disorder but the urges disappeared weeks after the surgery.

She was caught stealing on at least one occasion, Live Science reported, but was released after doctors explained she had a temporary psychiatric condition.

According to findings published in the BMJ Case Reports journal, other symptoms included drowsiness, disorientation, apathy and memory loss associated with brain damage.

Tests confirmed that the patient had sustained a hypoxic-ischaemic brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation during surgery.

Dr Nascimento told Quartz that it could have been caused by deliberate hypotension, where surgeons lower a patient’s blood pressure before surgery to reduce bleeding.

“Given that the brain has high energy demands…we believe that this deliberate hypotension resulted in inadequate blood flow to her brain,” he added.

He and three other researchers from the Neurological Institute of Curitiba in Brazil found the kleptomania was most probably caused by the “failure of inhibition from the caudate nuclei over the circuitry involving the cingulate gyri and frontal areas”.

The study concluded that although the brain is able to heal itself and re-establish the connections, kleptomania can be one of the results of such damage.

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