Teens and kids even younger are undergoing cosmetic surgery to stop bullying by peers, U.S. and British surgeons admit. However, some experts fear such interventions by scalpel may bring more problems than fixes.
More minors, especially young women, in the United States and Great Britain are undergoing surgical alteration of unusual -- or what they perceive as unattractive -- facial or body features, to counteract bullying, rather than to emulate their celebrity idols.
News media in both countries report cosmetic surgery on teenagers is a growing trend, as more parents grant the required permission allowing the procedures, sometimes as a last resort.
A CBSDFW.com article focuses on two sisters, aged 11 and 13, who decided in favor of ear-pinning surgery to correct an inherited small physical deformity they were bullied over: protruding ears due to a fold that failed to develop before birth.
A report in the Daily Mail describes how nose surgery (rhinoplasty) as an anti-bullying measure greatly benefited a 14-year-old girl by stopping the harassment she had endured for years, as well as boosting her self-confidence overall, according to her doctor, who has also performed breast augmentation with expandable implants on teenage girls who complained of being taunted for developing more slowly than their peers.
But few, if any, anti-bullying organizations are recommending kids change their looks to avoid bullying, the Daily Mail article continues, and instead the groups urge parents and schools to emphasize getting bullies to change their behaviors.
The School Bullying Council claims many doctors view using plastic surgery against bullying as a disturbing trend:
Dr. Edward Reitman, a child psychologist, said surgery to combat bullying sends the same message “society is giving people: you aren’t good enough, you need to be better, different,” the School Bullying Council reported.
A briefing paper on the American Society of Plastic Surgeons website indicates 218,909 cosmetic procedures were performed in 2010 on patients 13 to19 years old. Thus far, this organization has taken no position for or against plastic surgery on children for cosmetic reasons.
In related news:
Physorg reports the deformity that causes protruding ears is present in up to one-third of infants and is now being corrected successfully soon after birth with a non-invasive ear-reshaping device, a recently developed alternative to plastic surgery.
But plastic surgeries on children to correct functional problems that also affect appearance, such as facial paralysis, in contrast with operations to alter appearance only, are less controversial and becoming more common as failure rates go down, an article in ScienceDaily suggests.
Searching online for "bullying" brings pages of links to news stories and websites about anti-bullying campaigns and courses sponsored by schools, government agencies, youth organizations and public figures that address many causes of bullying besides appearance, indicating awareness raising educational programs against bullying may be a stronger trend, so far.