Teenagers and Cosmetic Surgery

Cosmetic surgery has become a multimillion dollar industry which is no longer the property of the rich. Your average person doesn’t even blink at the idea of a tummy tuck or liposuction to improve a less than perfect body and a nip and a tuck here or there to create a younger looking face is just that – a nip and a tuck!

Of course research has always been the key to ensuring that your surgery is problem free. The many and varied horror stories regularly printed in magazines and newspapers emphasize the importance of investigating your chosen plastic surgeon fully to ensure that he really IS qualified to do what you want him to do. But despite all the scary stories, the temptation of a ‘quick fix’ continues to attract people.

Holidays which include cosmetic surgery are now common. People can combine a fortnight in the sun with a ‘boob job’ for example and increasingly exotic destinations are now advertising surgical procedure facilities as an added incentive to book. Rightly or wrongly, people are beginning to think cosmetic surgery is less and less of a big deal, regarding breast implants as a ‘small procedure with little risk.’

But even more worrying in today’s society is our young people’s view of cosmetic surgery. They are bombarded daily with glossy magazines showing celebrities with stick like figures and unnaturally large breasts. This is what teenagers today are beginning to think is a typical and they hold with the belief that if your body doesn’t fit this picture, then cosmetic surgery is not just an option but a necessity.

All this begs the worrying question: When looking at themselves and others, exactly what do our young people today regard as ‘normal’?

Young boys think that all women’s breasts point directly outwards and upwards. Young girls believe that anything below a size D cup in unacceptable; that the problem of a flabby tummy should be solved, not by exercise, but with a tummy tuck; that additional fat can be removed by liposuction without the need to diet.

A recent program shown on British TV brought in a cross section of teenagers ranging from 12 to 18 years old. Nearly all those interviewed stated that they would happily go ahead and have various procedures ranging from tummy tucks to nose jobs. They were asked to view a typical teenager’s naked body (female) and decide what, if any, changes should be made under a surgeon’s knife. Unbelievably they came up with 50,000 pounds worth of surgery that they felt was not just desirable but necessary! In reality there was nothing wrong with the young girl’s physique. It was a perfectly ordinary body, typical of a 16 year old. Unfortunately however, that was not the opinion of her peers.

This exposes a disturbing trend in our young people today. A belief that any imperfection, however small, should be corrected. Many teenagers are blissfully unaware of the risks associated with all cosmetic surgery procedures and these hazards urgently need to be reiterated.

But perhaps more importantly, young people need to be educated about what is ‘normal’. Schools are now generally very thorough in explaining the importance of safe sex and the use of contraception to adolescents but they appear to leave teenagers floundering when it comes to educating them about their own bodies. This results in too many young people having a completely false image of what is normal in today’s society – one that they cannot possibly live up to.

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