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Cosmetic Surgery: Too Much Too Young?

Cosmetic surgery has always been and probably always will be an incendiary subject that causes heated debates around the dinner table and makes headlines across the country. In recent news we’ve heard how the PIP breast implant debacle has resulted in a cry for stricter rules which has stirred the authorities into taking action and are considering introducing new regulations.

The new regulations are said to target inexperienced and unqualified practitioners performing procedures. A new committee will assess and review the current laws surrounding cosmetic surgery but amazingly the topic of age restrictions have received almost no attention throughout this upheaval. The question is: with so many young girls desperately wanting to go under the knife, how young is too young for cosmetic surgery?

Celebrity Culture

Yes, you’ve heard all this before: ‘it’s our society that’s making young girls wear make-up, dress provocatively and grow up too fast!’ The reason you’ve heard all of this before because it’s probably true, at least to an extent; of course there are a million and one variables that can affect how a young girl thinks of herself and her developing body but the rise of ‘celebrity culture’ and the revival of dating shows undeniably play a large role in this change.

It’s really no wonder that so many girls have a distorted view of what the ‘perfect body’ looks like; take a look at television programs like ‘Take Me Out’ and ‘Love Machine’ and you’ll see one man choosing who he’ll take out on a date from a group of girls. When the majority of the boys will pick a girl with large breasts and lots of make-up, presented in a piece of fabric that’s teetering on the line between being a top and a dress, can you blame young girls for thinking that that’s how they need to look to find someone to love? Is it any wonder that 25% of all cosmetic procedures undertaken in the UK are for breast augmentation?

Could it be this culture that makes a young girl with a healthy and normal body feel as though she’s abnormal and must consider cosmetic surgery in an attempt to fit it in? There is an unimaginably long list of potential reasons that more and more young girls are going under the knife but no matter what the reason, one question remains: is it right to drastically alter a person physically before they have matured emotionally?

Is Age An Issue?

It’s a hot topic of debate about whether or not adolescent cosmetic surgery is morally right but it’s certainly legal: The Department of Health does not state that cosmetic surgery shouldn’t be performed on a person under the age of 18 and it’s only a matter of ‘good practice’ as to whether the adolescent between the age of 16 and 18 needs parental support to undertake surgery.

This returns us to the problem that it is dependent upon the competency of the individual plastic surgeon or clinic to determine if a candidate is suitable to receive cosmetic surgery or not. Unfortunately, many clinics will fail to recognise when a patient is in need of counselling instead of surgery and there a number of unscrupulous clinics that will simply ignore the matter in the interests of their bank balance.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a mental health problem that is regularly seen in the cosmetic surgery industry as Crerand et al. (2006) point out that “persons with Body Dysmorphic Disorder frequently seek cosmetic surgery and other related treatments to improve their ‘flawed’ appearance”.

Vulnerable young adults suffering from BDD should surely be offered counselling to address the root of the problem, not plastic surgery; a recent report from APPG suggests that there is an ‘urgent need to develop psychology screening tools’ to combat this problem. Nevertheless, BDD is something that experienced surgeons should be attuned to and should actively look for in patient consultations, particularly in young and emotionally vulnerable teenagers.

The decision to operate, however, is entirely down to the judgement of the surgeon which is particularly worrying fact, seeing as recent events have shown that there a collection of inexperienced practicing surgeons that may not notice or give heed to any potential mental health concerns.

When undertaken for the right reasons, in a stable state of mind and after consultations with a qualified and experienced surgeon, cosmetic surgery can do wonders for a person’s confidence and lifestyle. If you are considering cosmetic surgery then take the time to think about the pros and cons of the procedure and the reasons why you want it; if you decide to go through with the surgery then it’s essential that you go to a qualified, experienced and reputable surgeon to get the best physical and emotional results.

This article was written by Jennifer Griffiths on behalf of Safer Cosmetic Surgery a caring company that offers cosmetic surgery information and advice to point you in the right direction.

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