Plastic surgery is usually frowned upon–rightly so–when it comes to performing procedures on children. But can plastic surgery help bullied children in the right circumstances? Even that question raises some fraught questions and complicated answers. In other words, there’s no simple answer to this question.
Can Plastic Surgery Help Bullied Children or is it Treating the Wrong Problem?
What we can do instead is take some time to discuss all the variables. Bullying, after all, is a significant problem, and it’s not one that’s going to go away due to widespread use of plastic surgery or something silly like that. We’re not really interested in looking more deeply into that kind of a thing.
Instead, we’re looking at the use of plastic surgery on a personal level, for an individual child. For a child who wants to escape from harsh or relentless bullying, plastic surgery can seem like both a drastic step and a welcome relief all at the same time. Whatever the parents and children decide to do, it’s important to proceed carefully and thoughtfully. Can plastic surgery help bullied children on a one-on-one basis? Maybe, but it’s definitely worth talking about in more detail either way.
Why Do Kids Get Plastic Surgery?
Children undergoing plastic surgery is uncommon, but it’s not necessarily rare. There are plenty of acceptable reasons and procedures–although most of those are reconstructive instead of aesthetic. There are reasons why aesthetic plastic surgery tends to be less common in children:
- Children are still developing physically, meaning aesthetic changes to the body can lead to detrimental and unpredictable results down the road
- Children are also still changing and developing emotionally; they might think they want something as a child and regret that choice later in life
- There’s also the risk factor. Plastic surgery is not necessarily riskier for children than it is for adults, it’s simply that in the case of a child, any risk seems less “worth it.”
This list of why plastic surgery tends to be frowned upon in children could actually continue for quite some time. There are many reasons to be cautious and move slowly with such an undertaking. And, of course, any such procedure would have to be approved of (every step of the way) by the parents.
So with all that said, why do some kids still elect to undergo a cosmetic plastic surgery procedure? Well, it depends on the procedure. And the way it interacts with bullying can be telling.
Bullying and Plastic Surgery
Bullying is a social problem, common throughout our culture and probably best combatted on that cultural scale. But on a personal level, it’s easy to see why some parents and children might see plastic surgery as the only way to secure a more peaceful childhood.
There are two procedures in particular that are often employed to escape bullying in certain situations:
- Rhinoplasty, used to alter the shape of the nose
- Otoplasty, used to change the shape of the ear (especially when the ears are overly large or stick out an unusual amount)
These procedures are usually performed in circumstances when the bullying is quite persistent and is focused on the ears or the nose. And it’s not as though the patients are under the impression that, after the plastic surgery, all the bullying will stop.
Instead, most patients undergo the procedure because the bullying has created a significant self-conscious feeling surrounding that particular part of the face. The procedure is designed to make the patient feel comfortable again in his or her own skin.
A Sensitive Approach
There’s still some question over this is the right approach, even on an individual level. Does it, for example, send the wrong message? Does it reinforce the wrong values? Should we, instead, spend time trying to emphasize the message that beauty is only skin deep? These questions are important, and it’s a good idea to spend some time wrestling with them.
That’s also why most decisions to undergo plastic surgery–especially for children and teens–are made in conjunction with child psychologists or therapists. The professional opinions of these experts can really help children and parents see the long term impacts of their decisions.
Whether someone decides to undergo plastic surgery because of bullying is truly a personal decision. Can plastic surgery help bullied children? Probably in certain cases. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be thoughtful and intentional in our approach to these procedures.