A few weeks ago I watched a television show centered around bullying. I was shocked to learn that a 14-year-old victim of bullying was given a charitable plastic surgery, specifically otoplasty, reduction rhinoplasty, and mentoplasty. Even more shocking was the fact that Brooke Bates, at the age of 12 years, the youngest person to ever undergo liposuction, underwent cosmetic surgery, to look more like Barbie, after being taunted at school!
I know bullying is an issue, but what is happening in our society that rather than teach our children to love themselves and allow puberty and growing up to take place, we resort to such drastic measures as plastic surgery?
As cosmetic procedures among young adults become more common, Dr. Cynthia Elliott of Skinspirations encourages caution, as teenagers have yet to fully develop, both physically and emotionally.
There were more than 76,000 cosmetic surgery procedures performed on teens in 2011—a possible reflection of recent findings that show cosmetic procedures have risen 30 percent over the last decade among teen bullying victims (1). As more teenagers are altering their appearance to make themselves look better and thus feel better, Dr. Cynthia Elliott, owner of Tampa Bay nonsurgical cosmetic facility (http://www.skinspirations.com/) Skinspirations, warns against children undergoing both surgical and minimally-invasive procedures. Elliott says that their bodies, as well as their understanding of the inherent risks, are still developing.
Beauty is a trait coveted by many, as evidenced by reports that show over 13 million minimally-invasive procedures were performed in 2012 (2). But now even children are attempting to become more attractive, a trend that some believe is likely influenced by the weight society places on appearance.
Case in Point:
A mobile app featured on iTunes and Google Play encourages children as young as nine years of age to make girls “slim and beautiful” by performing plastic surgery on them. The free software, “Plastic Surgery for Barbie,” puts the user in the role of a liposuction doctor who “operates” on an overweight character, before pulling off bandages to reveal a much thinner and “more beautiful” girl (3).
While surgical procedures are most common among teens, many of them are also seeking laser skin resurfacing, chemical peels, dermabrasions and even Botox injections (4). And though research into the dangers of cosmetic procedures performed on children under the age of 18 is limited, the physical and emotional risks are numerous, according to Dr. Elliott:
● Serious health consequences can include slow and painful recoveries, bacterial infections and possible scarring;
● Because young bodies are still growing, it is unclear how a procedure will affect their future development; and
● Teens may believe a new look will increase their self-esteem or popularity; unrealistic expectations can set them up for major disappointment if those expectations aren’t met.
“While adults tend to want to stand out or turn back the clock, teenagers typically seek cosmetic procedures to better fit in,” Dr. Elliott said. “But adolescents fail to understand that their bodies are still maturing, and the results they desire may occur naturally as they grow. Because they’re also still growing emotionally, the appearance goal they have now may be entirely different from what they hope to look like a year or two from now.”
Before seeking a cosmetic procedure, Dr. Elliott advises parents to speak with their child to find out the reason behind the request and whether they have attainable goals; and, in addition, to seek the help of a practitioner with experience in treating young adults.
Dr. Elliott is a former emergency and trauma doctor with the experience and expertise to perform a wide array of nonsurgical procedures in Tampa. With a practice devoted exclusively to cosmetic and laser procedures, Dr. Elliott is often sought out to perform Botox injections. Dr. Elliott is a trainer and speaker for Allergan and has taught fellow physicians how to properly administer fillers for the last several years.
1. Hoist, Nate. “More Teens Undergoing Cosmetic Surgery.” Wmtw.com. N.p., 15 Nov. 2013. Web. 20 Feb. 2014. wmtw.com/news/more-teens-having-cosmetic-surgery/22984778.
2. “2012 Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Statistics.” Plasticsurgery.org. American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 2012. Web. 20 Feb. 2014. plasticsurgery.org/Documents/news-resources/statistics/2012-Plastic-Surgery-Statistics/Cosmetic-Procedure-Trends-2012.pdf.
3. Boyle, Sian. “Free ‘plastic Surgery’ App Aimed at Children as Young as Nine Sparks Online Campaign to Get It Removed from Itunes and Google Play.” Standard.co.uk. 14 Jan. 2014. Web. 20 Feb. 2014. standard.co.uk/news/techandgadgets/free-plastic-surgery-app-aimed-at-children-as-young-as-nine-sparks-online-campaign-to-get-it-removed-from-itunes-and-google-play-9059356.html.
4. Collins, Lois. “Teens Turn to Plastic Surgery; Experts Tackle the When and Why.” Deseretnews.com. N.p., 12 Mar. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2014. deseretnews.com/article/865575486/Teens-turn-to-plastic-surgery-experts-tackle-the-when-and-why.html?pg=all.