Thursday, June 25, 2009

Kids Getting Plastic Surgery

I felt so "out of the know" when I read this article. I heard about more teenagers getting breast implants, but I didn't realize they could get liposuction. That is surprising to me, especially at 16. I would have thought they would need to finish growing before they could have any work done on their body. I guess not. What do you think about this? Would you let your child have any of these surgeries? At what age?

FROM NBC: A growing trend in America.. teens getting plastic surgery. But are teens old enough and mature enough to be changing their looks?

We see it in magazines and on TV. Plastic surgery is a 30 billion dollar industry...and the patients... are getting younger and younger.

Dr. Gerald Pitman/New York City Plastic Surgeon
"For teenagers the range of ages I've operated on have been 14 to 19. I have had patients as young as 12 come into the office and ask for surgery."

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there was a 180% increase in cosmetic surgery procedures performed on teenagers from 2003 to 2008. Dr. Pitman said, "The common operation for children are a nose reduction...ears being pinned back, dermabration for acne, breast reduction in girls and in boys and liposuction."

When 21 year old Kate Deleveileuse was a teen, she hated her legs."I probably started becoming self conscious about my legs in about 8th grade. I couldn't wear boots, I didn't really like to wear shorts or skirts or anything that ended at the knee." So for her 16th birthday her mom got her the present she wanted -- liposuction.

Rudy Ferno/Kate's Mother
"I think it's important for your child to feel like they fit in."

Dr. Pitman "Never underestimate the importance of anyone's appearance to their self esteem, adult or child. it is frequently more important to the child than to the adult. They are much more sensitive to the emotional slights and insults of their peers."

But it's just that emotional immaturity that has some questioning whether teenagers are old enough to make decisions about going under the knife and changing their bodies forever.

Kate "just actual dangers of surgery i didn't take into account to be honest."

Dr. David Staffenberg, a reconstructive surgeon at Children's Hospital at Montefiore, focuses on surgeries for children with deformities like a cleft palate or disfiguring birthmarks. He says he doesn't do "strictly" cosmetic plastic surgery for anyone under 18.

Staffenberg "In our world, cosmetic surgery is concentrating on features that are acceptable and trying to make them better, whereas reconstructive surgery concentrates on features that are say unacceptable or congenital deformities."

But, even Dr. Staffenberg admits that there's a gray line. Dr. Staffenberg
"Each patient is different and we can't set rules for one patient and then necessarily carry them over to another, so it frequently comes down to the consolation between the patient and their parents and the plastic surgeon in trying to sort this out."

Five years later Kate has no regrets. Kate "I feel great about doing it. I just think it's your body you should be able to improve it in any way you want as long as you're doing it for the right
reasons." But plastic surgery is a place where parenting and medicine need to overlap.

Dr. Staffenberg "Every year there are millions of plastic surgery operations done safely, but
that does not mean it comes without risks."

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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