Cosmetic surgery in people under eighteen years of age is most deifinitely a subject that divides public opinion.
However, with the ever-increasing number of celebrities that have had cosmetic surgery such as breast enhancements, liposuction, rhinoplasty (nose job) or a facelift, the results of cosmetic surgery are never far from the public eye. With this in mind, it has become more and more common for children as young as fourteen (primarily young women instead of men) to feel they need cosmetic surgery in order to heal their low self-esteem.
As the media projects women with larger breasts as more attractive to men, it has had a knock-on effect on the self esteem of some girls with smaller breasts and they may feel a “boob job” is the only answer. As psychologically beneficial as this may be, on the other end of the spectrum it could be used to aid the sexualisation of children. For example, the woman who gave her seven year old daughter a voucher for breast enlargement surgery on her birthday.
Some cosmetic surgery in children and teenagers is of a medical nature, for example to remove a cleft palate or a large facial mole. The aesthetic benefits of this kind of surgery are evident, but the psychological benefits to children with facial disfigurements are endless, giving children a heightened sense of wellbeing and therefore a better quality of life.
Plastic surgery on children can occasionally be a decision of the parents so that their child will not be bullied at school. For example, in the news a boy born with no outer ear but with perfect hearing was given cosmetic surgery by his parents to form an outer ear, worrying that he would get bullied at school. This is obviously aesthetically beneficial to the boy, yet it shows how far parents will go to avoid their children being ridiculed in school. This procedure was not medically necessary but perhaps psychologically necessary.
A more controversial cosmetic surgery procedure on the market is known as ‘Asian eye surgery’, an eye-widening procedure that makes the eyes of a person of Asian descent look more like the eyes of people of European descent. This is a grey area as it involves some very difficult psychological decisions with regards to ethnicity and self-image.
There will never be a unanimous argument for children undergoing cosmetic surgery, and a case-by-case analysis must be made in order to know if cosmetic surgery is the best way forward in a child.