The Effects of Cosmetic Surgery Essay Sample
In 2008, over 160,000 girls 18 years and younger had surgical and cosmetic procedures done to enhance, alter, or fix body parts that were seen as awkward and unfitting (Preface to). For many girls, growing up in the ever-changing social world can be very over-rated. With constant pressure being thrown at girls from television, magazines, commercial ads, and movies it is not a surprise that many believe their only option is permanent cosmetic alteration. Opting for plastic surgery can leave very harmful, even permanent damage to a developing body. Allowing girls to get plastic surgery to fix their discontent with their body image is wrong and can be contributed to the fault of modern media. Nothing has been done to improve upon the social media’s influence on the younger population growing up in today’s world. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, “Popularity with cosmetic surgeries is rising at an alarming rate. In 2008, over 160,000 girls under the age of 18 had surgical and cosmetic procedures” (Preface to).
Rhinoplasty, a form of plastic surgery performed on the nose, is the leading surgery carried out on teens with breast enhancement, liposuction, and Botox following close behind. The real shock in the growing trend of these procedures is that Botox is considered to be a surgery conducted on middle age or older women, your breasts are not done developing till you are in your 20’s, and liposuction is only a temporary fix to fat and cellulite. Most of these issues can arguably be fixed through diet and exercise. Another popular surgery is Asian eye surgery. This is a surgery that is done on Westerners of Asian descent who want to widen the appearance of their eyes. “Asians are classified by their almond shaped, low-caste eyes; so why are parents allowing their children to have this controversial procedure done when it completely destroys this definitive cultural characteristic?” (Marcus). Sometimes widening the eyes can lead to damaging effects in a later age. The only true benefit of this surgery is that it makes Asians appear more like their Caucasian counterparts, it does not improve eyesight or health; it is simply done for vanity purposes only.
With the growing popularity in this field, many red flags are being sent up among the medical world as to why plastic surgery is becoming such a fast-growing trend. More than ever, we are seeing teens that are looking for a quick fix to their problems. “The girl who says, ‘I’m a bit overweight, and why should I exercise or diet when I can just get it sucked out?’” (Hunker). To combat the ever-growing popularity, the government has increased their involvement in the cosmetic surgery field. Studies have been found that show teenagers would have to have psychological examinations and a three-month cooling-off period before surgery as part of the push to tighten controls on the booming industry (Kids). Cosmetic clinics would be banned from offering incentives such as gifts, discounts, or loans under recommendations from the Health Advisory Council draft report (Kids). “Dr Joanna Flynn said of the report: “The board will develop more detailed guidance for medical practitioners in relation to cosmetic medical practice if this is necessary to help the board in its core role of protecting the public” (Kids). Even though, the government is getting involved the belief that the numbers will decrease is seen by many as virtually unrealistic.
As long as the media continues to support this field through magazines, television, and commercial ads, girls will still want to take the “easy way out” and get cosmetic surgery done. A large concern among surgeons and parents is whether or not the kids are doing this to please the opposite sex. When girls consider undergoing plastic surgery, it might be for all the wrong reasons. Sexual identity is a questionable concern when doctors come across kids wanting plastic surgery. Teenagers lack the understanding and maturity to comprehend the change underwent after plastic surgery. At these young ages, their minds are not entirely developed and so with severe altering, some complications can arise. Doctors and parents must also consider the possibility that it is because girls are being intimidated by others. With procedures, certain issues and problems may arise. Cosmetic surgeries provide only temporary fixes to growing and developing bodies creating a sense of flawed beauty. Donn Chatham, a plastic surgeon in Louisville and president of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery believes that “For the most part, these are otherwise healthy kids looking to improve an awkward but functional feature, such as a large nose or small breasts” (Marcus).
The biggest concern is that we are taking away an opportunity for kids to choose for themselves. We want to encourage as much as possible, to our kids that there’s so much more to life than the appearance of their breasts or nose. What we should be teaching to the young of today is that true beauty cannot be store bought. Outside influences are also contributing to the rising popularity of procedures. “In New York you can go to a party and they will tell you where they had surgery, in LA they show you where they had surgery, but in Washington nobody talks, but everybody has surgery” (Gerhart). There is less of a taboo about plastic surgery than ever before because of reality shows focusing on it and more celebrities who acknowledge they have had it, so children know it’s an option. Thanks in part to television shows like ”I Want a Famous Face” on MTV, ”The Swan” on Fox and ”Extreme Makeover” on ABC, cosmetic surgery is more popular than ever. And children and teenagers are not immune to the trend. And today’s parents are more than willing to consider it for their kids. “Boomer parents may themselves even be undergoing cosmetic surgery and may feel for our children that it’s not such a stretch,” (Marcus). Statistics show that many girls with a family history of plastic surgery tend to opt for cosmetic intervention before considering other possible routes.
If a girl grows up in a household where the mother undergoes liposuction, Botox, breast enlargement, etc. and she sees that that is how her mom deals with image issues, than she will adopt a belief that this is how one can deal with body issues. The slow economy might also be contributing to the decline in the cosmetic surgery market. Times have changed and so have the ways kids deal with problems like body image. “Years ago, life was simpler for teens who didn’t like their looks. Girls put socks under their sweaters, and awkward, acne-faced boys hid behind shaggy hairstyles. And for better or worse, kids grew out of or adapted to their bodies” (Marcus). These days, more youngsters are altering the body parts that give them angst by going under the knife, laser, or lipo tube to get the look they want. One source describes a situation that involves girls of all ages being preoccupied with being fat and conforming to the social media’s image of beauty. Believe it or not, dismay over body image starts in girls even before puberty. It is not uncommon for teens to feel as if they must conform to the thin, waif-like bodies of runway models and cover girls; many young girls and older teens are convinced that unless they approximate whatever image is touted in the media, they will have no chance of being socially successful.
Yet others have a very different opinion on the pros and cons of plastic surgery. Some doctors argue that certain surgeries can bring significant physical and emotional benefits to girls with low self esteem. Many teenage girls suffer from low self esteem issues that can develop into various disorders. Since teenagers experience the most change physically, emotionally, and mentally during these years, they can become overwhelmed. With all of these changes comes a sense of being awkward and unnatural. And in extreme cases girls opt to cosmetically fix these problems. “Even though the girls get the surgery, self esteem issues usually still exist under the ‘new face’” (Marcus).
A term one doctor used to describe these girls who are altering their features is Mr. Potato Heads; interchangeable dolls who can change their features with a quick switch. Even if some girls benefit from the surgeries, many do not. “Despite physicians’ reluctance, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery has guidelines on teen surgery that are timidly encouraging.” An example of this as stated by ASAPS is, “‘When one breast significantly differs from the other in terms of either size or shape, surgery can help girls as young as 16,’ one of the guidelines suggests.” (Gerhart). Breast reductions are widely acknowledged as suitable for girls of 16–and even covered by insurance–even though many times the surgeon must remove and reset the nipples, damaging nerve endings in the process. Whether or not it is beneficial is a concern all girls must consider before choosing to change themselves permanently.
Despite differing opinions, plastic surgery and teenagers do not mix. Although there can sometimes be a need for kids to get the procedure done, undergoing surgery at such a young age to fix a problem that might eventually fix itself is wrong. When considering whether or not plastic surgery is acceptable for teens, it is important to consider for whom and what are they doing it for. As many experts said, examine the red flags. With so much pressure coming from so many places it is unjust to blame the parents or the girls for believing that this is their only option. The real fault lies with the media, the social world’s evil driving force. Influential in all aspects, the media creates the normal that all girls feel as if they must reach. To fix the issue of plastic surgery and teenagers, we first need to fix the media and establish a “new normal” that all girls can aspire to be like.