Cosmetic Surgery Controversy in the News: How Young is Too Young?

A. Foley on 3 Aug 2012 at 9:00am

Earlier this week, the story broke on the charitable donation of plastic surgery to a 14-year-old victim of bullying, specifically otoplasty, reduction rhinoplasty, and mentoplasty. The surrounding controversy faced us once again with the two-fold question: What is an appropriate age for plastic surgery? And, is it a reasonable solution to bullying? With the topic splashed across headlines, we pulled up this post from a few months ago, discussing the rise of plastic surgery in youth, and want to hear your thoughts on the issue.

Should kids be allowed to have cosmetic procedures to prevent bullying? Should it be given as a charitable donation? Please share your comments below.


Minor Alterations: When is Plastic Surgery Acceptable for Kids?

Melissa Rudy on 9 Jun 2012 at 9:00am

kids plastic surgery

If you saw the title of this post and cringed in horror, don't worry. We're not on a Toddlers & Tiaras track here—and we definitely don't mean breast enhancements for 10-year-olds.

However, it's becoming more common for teens to undergo various forms of plastic surgery (with their parents' permission, of course). Why? The reasons vary. While some are doing it purely for cosmetic reasons, many are attempting to combat issues like bullying and health-threatening physical conditions.

Bully on you: Saving “face” at school

Before a few years ago, plastic surgery for kids was rarely a discussion topic. Today, however, more parents are viewing this as a viable option to save their children from potential years of psychological scarring.

The parents of a 13-year-old girl consented to a rhinoplasty procedure when her nose drew teasing not only from classmates, but also from people on Facebook. The girl did have extenuating circumstances, though—her nose had been broken previously, and was deformed as a result.

Ears are another big source of teasing. A number of parents have elected to treat their kids to otoplasty to correct “jug handle” ears—a procedure which, according to plastic surgeons, is fine for younger children. In fact, Dr. Steven Pearlman says, “The ideal age [for otoplasty] is about six years old. The ear is 90 percent of adult size, so we can operate successfully and a child is old enough to understand why the operation is important.”

There's also the teen boy who underwent breast reduction surgery, due to a hormone balance that gave him breasts his female classmates might envy—if they weren't laughing at him.


Questionable motivations: Pint-sized surgery for cosmetics alone

Parents may be more comfortable with the idea of plastic surgery for minors when bullying is the motivation. Still, some kids wish to go under the knife because they are not satisfied with their looks.

Some communities joke about the teen nose job as a "rite of passage" — kids know their relatives have had that or other cosmetic enhancements and want the same. Others want less invasive, but still harmful, procedures—like tanning.

Brooke Bates, dubbed the “youngest plastic surgery patient” by the press, weighed 225 pounds at 12 years old, when she opted for liposuction, which doctors says is not a method for massive weight loss. After regaining some weight, she then had Lap Band surgery against the advice of the family's doctor.

Brooke got breast implants at the age of 15, and is now looking to have work done on her face. In her words, she wants to become a “living doll.”

Brooke Bates teen liposuction

Photo credit: huff post, The Gloss; Romania Online;

Comments (5)

I dont think something like breast implants or lipo should be performed on kids that are still growing. my breasts grew so much from when i was 12.
One complexity worth exploring is how the industry takes an issue such as bullying and spins it into an endorsement of plastic surgery. Should a child get his or her ears bobbed if the child is a bully target? Maybe. Should the plastic surgery industry attempt to exploit the current public interest in bullying and use it to sell the public on plastic surgery as a solution to bullying? I don't have the answers, but these are some of the questions.
Children get plastic surgery for the same reasons that adults get plastic surgery. The bullying is just a symptom (one of many possible) that motivates a family and the child to get some sort of corrective surgery. It's amusing how the question has been turned around into a discussion about bullying, which is not a new phenomenon. In fact, it is a facile argument that appears neat and comprehensive but ignores the complexities of the issue.

I would love it if you would expound on this a bit more and share what you feel are the complexities of the issue.

This is a very interesting topic with a lot of pros and cons. I personally WOULD NOT allow my children to get p.s because of bullying. I feel that the important thing to teach my children is not to change themselves every time someone has a problem with their looks. Personally I am a fighter myself and instead of dealing with the so called shortcomings my children are perceived to have by these bullies, I would address the bullies and their parents!!! Not change my child. If they are truly unhappy, then sure, when they are 18, they can work and save up enough money to get the procedure they want.

In regards to just allowing them to change their features and under go p.s just because of aesthetics, then absolutely not! They are way too young at 12,13.

Only, for reconstructive surgery due to an accident of some sort would I consider the p.s. Thanks great topic!