Entitled Youth of America Want Cosmetic Surgery

Susan Anderson

by Susan Anderson | August 6, 2012 @ 11:00AM

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It’s ‘Back to School’ season and this year’s preparations come with a new twist. Designer acne scar treatments, breast augmentations and rhinoplasties are topping shopping lists above the traditional school supplies. In 2010, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reported nearly 219,000 cosmetic surgeries were performed on teens 13 to 19 years old. The fact that these procedures are on the rise is not surprising. Today’s advancements in technology coupled with the insecurities and the “mine, mine, mine” attitude of our youth make for the perfect storm.

Let’s face it, today’s kids have grown up in a culture of high praise for little effort. It’s been the age of the participation trophy, rewards for expected behavior in the home and at school and access to many gizmos and gadgets meant to placate and distract. It’s from these gizmos and gadgets that headlines are shared and ideas are born. Read the headlines:

Mother Gives 7-Year-Old Plastic Surgery for Christmas” 

Plastic Surgeon Gave his Daughter Breast Implants When She Turned 18”.

Today’s parents devote the vast majority of their time and resources giving to their children every luxury and experience they can afford so it’s no wonder these parents give in to the whines for perfect skin and perky breasts. Parents are supposed to be advocates for their children but what they are becoming are enablers. But today’s teens aren’t coming up with visions of grandeur all on their own, they're getting it from television, social media and their peers.

Just the other day this tweet came to my attention:

The tweet came from a girl named Erica who lists her age as 20. In case you’re not familiar, Teen Mom is an MTV reality show that chronicles the lives of teens as they navigate their first few years as parents. The show is intended to dissuade teens from choosing to become parents at an early age but as the stars gain fame and receive cosmetic surgeries of their own, the viewers actually are zeroing in on those perks as the tweet above illustrates.

In addition to television, social media spreads the most sensational stories like wildfire throughout Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Over 20 million Facebook users are under 18 and when they read about father’s giving their daughters breast augmentations, it hits home. When a plastic surgeon feels it appropriate and safe for his own daughter, it must be the right choice for every teen, right? Wrong, these types of decisions should be made on a case by case basis. Some teens will greatly benefit from cosmetic procedures. Others may need counseling first to address the issues at the heart of their desire to change themselves.

The hot go-to excuse for teens seeking out cosmetic surgery today is bullying. CNN is even getting into the act on this one. Sanjay Gupta recently interviewed bullying victim Nadia Ilse, a 14-year-old girl who was granted $40,000 in cosmetic surgery for otoplasty (ears), rhinoplasty (nose)  and mentoplasty (chin) by the Little Baby Face Foundation, an organization whose mission is to provide surgical repair to young children born with facial deformities free of charge. Nadia’s transformation was astounding but was it really necessary? While bullying should not be tolerated in our schools or our society, is it sending the right message to cover up every flaw with cosmetic surgery? Does this mean that every child who doesn’t like something about themselves should be encouraged to surgically correct it if possible? Or is part of the maturing process to accept the things we can’t change, be grateful for what we have and learn to love ourselves first a thing of the past?

Cosmetic surgery can be the right decision for many people and even teens. But let’s make sure we’re allowing it, as parents and physicians, on the right candidates; those who are mature, informed and emotionally prepared.

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