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Plastic Surgery: What's Too Young?

Leave it to the mass media to take advantage of the misery many people feel because they have such a distorted view of themselves by producing TV shows that allegedly help a select few "escape" their problems through plastic surgery. Living in the culture, such as it is, I'm not surprised, but a bit disappointed, people waste their valuable time watching this junk.

What really upsets me, however, is the number of children and teens who have had plastic surgeries appears to be growing, according to a report. Surgeries in the U.S. rose 14 percent from 2000-03 to some 74,000 annually. The numbers may surprise you as much as they did me.

  • Girls and boys as young as 6 get plastic surgery to flatten protruding ears.
  • Adolescents of 13 or 14 have nose jobs.
  • Nearly 3,700 breast augmentation surgeries were performed on teenage girls last year.
  • Almost as many teenage boys (3,300) had overly developed breasts reduced.

There are many reasons kids want plastic surgery -- peer pressure and popularity quickly come to mind -- that serve as red flags to physicians. But some times, parents can be the problem, as one surgeon said, if they bring in their teen for a nose job.

Some surgeons believe many teens are equipped to make level-headed, serious decisions about opting for surgery, and a series of recent European studies back up this assertion.

But, like adults, kids tend to underestimate the pain and even believe they can undo the surgery if it doesn't work out the way they want it to.

Nose jobs, breast implants and ear flattening are a temporary solution to a deeper, long-lasting problem: a poor self-image that motivates kids to have this surgery in the first place. There are more natural and safer solutions to solve these problems.

The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is one of my favorites. It's a form of psychological acupuncture I routinely use in my practice to optimize my patients' emotional health. If you want to know more about EFT and learn how to use it, read my free EFT manual.

New York Times September 28, 2004

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