June 21, 2004
What's the hot gift this
"June 14, 2004 --
Forget the convertible. A boob job is the latest must-have on
your teen daughter's graduation list. The number of 18-year-olds
who underwent breast-implant surgery nearly tripled last year
˜ from 3,872 in 2002 to 11,326 in 2003, according to the American
Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. 'There is a trend in which
parents are giving implants as a gift, including as a graduation
present,' said Dr. Stephen Greenberg, who practices in Woodbury,
L.I., and Manhattan. Popular, well-endowed teen idols, like Britney
Spears and Lindsay Lohan, as well as reality-TV shows like 'Extreme
Makeover' and 'The Swan,' have made some girls dislike their own
bodies, experts said. 'The media and fashion industries emphasize
breasts and a curvaceous figure,' said Dr. Leroy Young, co-chair
of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery's breast-surgery
committee. 'There's no advertising [for implants] targeting that
age group, but the images are all around them.'"
Some people appear to
be getting the looks they want in just a few minutes on TV; while
others in front of the camera have already been through the process.
The illusion is that plastic surgery can transform anyone into
someone who looks like the cover of a magazine.
"What Is Plastic
Taken from the Greek word "plastikos", meaning to mold
or give form, plastic surgery is the specialty of medicine dedicated
to restoring and reshaping the human body. It encompasses both
reconstructive surgery, which is performed on abnormal structures
of the body caused by birth defects, developmental problems, injuries,
infection, tumors or disease; and cosmetic surgery, which is performed
to reshape or restore normal structures of the body to improve
appearance and self-esteem.*
*Definition as adopted by the American Medical Association (AMA)
and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS)."
More and more teens are
choosing "cosmetic surgery, which is performed to reshape
or restore normal structures of the body to improve appearance
"The most common
procedures teens choose include laser hair removal, nose reshaping,
ear reshaping (known as otoplasty), and breast reduction. Procedures
like dermabrasion (in which the top layers of skin are surgically
scraped away) can smooth severe scars from acne. Laser hair removal
can, over the course of several treatments, significantly reduce
unwanted body hair. A teen may decide to have his ears reshaped
if they stick out from his head a lot or opt for cosmetic surgery
to correct a large bump on his nose. And, despite what you may
think, breast reduction is an option for both girls and guys.
Girls who develop very large breasts when they go through puberty
may have back pain and be uncomfortable with their appearance.
Making the breasts smaller can ease strain on the back, help them
stand up straighter, and make them feel less self-conscious. Breast
reduction can be even more of an issue for guys...."
Yes, more and more guys
are choosing cosmetic surgery these days, as well.
"...men are flocking
to plastic surgeons for treatments ranging from Botox injections
and liposuction to eye lifts and breast reductions.... Consider
these statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons:
* In 2001, 17 percent of patients having chemical peels were men,
up from 4 percent in 1992. * During that same nine-year period,
the number of men having facelifts climbed from 7 percent to 10
percent. * Males opting for
liposuction rose from 13 percent to 18 percent. * And men who
chose to reshape their nose jumped from 28 percent to 37 percent....
Miller has seen a dramatic increase in male patients, who made
up just 10 percent to 15 percent of his practice in the mid-1990s
but now account for 35 percent to 40 percent."
Women, men, and teens
all over the world...
"South Korea's primary
cosmetic obsession is with the eyes. Having bigger eyes is every
girl's dream, and it can now be realized through a simple $800
operation... Teenagers as young as 14 are doing it, and eye jobs
have become a favorite high school graduation gift from proud
parents. Clinics are busiest during winter vacations, when high
school seniors are preparing themselves for college or for entering
the workplace. The majority come for the eyelids, but nose jobs
are also becoming popular among teens.... And with so many young
people having themselves remade, parents are afraid their children
will fall behind, not just academically but aesthetically. 'Parents
make their kids get plastic surgery,' says Dr. Shim Hyung Bo,
a plastic surgeon practicing in Seoul, 'just like they make them
So what do you do when
so many people have altered their appearance that "normal"
and "abnormal" begin to blur? The surgery is not reconstructing
anything with which there has been a medical problem. It is still
is performed for aesthetic rather than medical reasons. People
elect to have cosmetic surgery to improve their appearance. Like
any form of surgery, cosmetic surgery carries risks. In some cases,
the results are not what the patient anticipated. It is vital
to choose a qualified and experienced surgeon. Ask questions about
possible side effects and complications."
"Last week, the
FDA released its new consumer handbook on implants - and included
graphic photos of possible side effects. Kathy Keithley Johnston,
executive director of Toxic Discovery, an anti-implant group in
Columbia, Mo., praised the FDA booklet, noting, 'a picture is
worth a thousand words.' That parents willingly shell out $3,500
to $7,000 for a daughter's implant surgery infuriates Johnston,
a registered nurse who claims her implants made her seriously
ill. 'They say it's the girls making the decisions - but it's
the parents writing the checks. How is that any different than
buying them alcohol or cigarettes. Shame on any parent that would
endanger a teenager that way.'"
There are parents who
push their teens to have cosmetic surgery, and there are parents
who encourage the surgeries by offering to pay. While some teens
consider this the greatest gift a parent could give, there are
those who find it irresponsible because of the risks involved.
"According to the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the risks of breast implants
don't end with the initial surgery. Since implants do not tend
to last a lifetime, follow-up surgeries are often required. Some
breast implants can rupture or deflate within the first few months,
according to the FDA. Others will deflate after several years
and some will last 10 or more years before they rupture or deflate."
So implants are not a
permanent fix. What about other procedures? For more details about
other specific forms of cosmetic surgery, you can visit:
"This page offers a general overview of cosmetic surgery
procedures.... While this section explores cosmetic surgical offerings, many
of these procedures may also fulfill true medical needs.
You should understand that the circumstances and experience of
every individual will be unique.... In addition, please note that
all surgery carries some uncertainty and risk, including the possibility
of infection, bleeding, blood clots, and adverse reactions to
"[T]hese procedures may
also fulfill true medical needs."
Whether there is a medical
need, a strong desire to help self-esteem, or it is a choice for
purely aesthetic reasons- parents, teens, and doctors need to
look at the benefits and the risks.
"And remember that
doctors will only perform some procedures once the patient has
reached a certain age. Ears can be operated on when a person is
fairly young, usually between 4 and 14 years old. But many doctors
hold off reshaping noses until teens have completed their growth
spurt - that may mean 14 or 15 for girls and a little older
for guys. Breast reduction also should wait until the breasts
have fully developed, and girls who want to enlarge their breasts
for cosmetic reasons usually must be at least 18 because saline
implants are only approved for women 18 and older."
Finding a doctor who
will bend the rules a bit when it comes to age (or anything else)
might seem like just what you are looking for, but keep in mind
that the guidelines are there for a reason. You want a doctor
that doesn't just want your business, but is also interested in
your best interests and overall health.
plastic surgeon is a doctor trained to be a concerned care-giver,
a wound-care expert, a problem-solver, an artist-designer and
a meticulous surgeon in the operating room. It's important to
realize that not every doctor who has claimed the title "plastic
surgeon" has the same training. The truth is, anyone with
a medical degree can call himself or herself a plastic surgeon;
there are no laws that require doctors offering specialty care
to meet certain qualifications."
American Society of Plastic Surgeons
There are many reasons
to choose plastic surgery.
There are also many risks.
Questions of the Week:
What are some reasons why a teen might want plastic surgery? What
are some reasons why a teen might want to decide against plastic
surgery--or possibly postpone it? What are realistic expectations
for a teen considering surgery? What risks and side effects should
anyone who is considering plastic surgery research? Who is responsible
for finding the best doctor and researching (then understanding)
the possible complications? What role should the parents play
in this decision? By supporting (financially or otherwise) whatever
decision the teen makes, is the parent being irresponsible--or
understanding and supportive?
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum