Can Cosmetic Surgery Prevent Bullying?

Cosmetic Surgery to Prevent BullyingA recent news story about a teen who got cosmetic surgery after being bullied for her misshapen nose has the cosmetic surgery industry buzzing. In Naples, I guide families through the many considerations that come into play when a young person wants elective surgery, and bullying comes up regularly.

In the recent news story, a 15-year-old girl was granted a free rhinoplasty surgery from a New York nonprofit called the Little Baby Face Foundation. She had been bullied for years to the extent that she stopped attending school and was instead home-schooled.

Crooked or overly large noses are a common condition among younger plastic surgery patients because they’re often the source of ridicule by a young person’s peers. Unfortunately, as much as we encourage children to feel good about themselves and their bodies, pressures to conform to certain standards can be high, especially in the teenage years.

The question for parents whose children want to change something about their bodies is whether surgery would be of emotional benefit or emotional harm. Some critics say letting a teen get a strictly cosmetic procedure solidifies a young person’s body image issues and sets them up for a lifetime of insecurity. When bullying comes into play, though, plastic surgery actually has the potential to prevent emotional damage.

For the teen in New York, a straightened nose meant she is now planning to return to school, and her mother reports her child is happier than she’s been in years. Otoplasty (reshaping overly large ears) and breast reduction can also benefit young patients.

I follow ethical guidelines laid out by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons® that say cosmetic procedures are appropriate only for patients age 18 and older unless there is a compelling reason for surgery at a younger age. Bullying can be that compelling reason in some cases, as long as the patient is mature enough and has a good support system.

I invite you to learn more about considerations for teens who desire cosmetic surgery here.

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