Author: Adekola Taylor
Cosmetic surgery is defined as surgery to improve a "normal" appearance, such as reshaping a nose or augmenting breasts (Zuckerman). Over the years, there have been a lot of hot debates for and against teen cosmetic surgery especially in the press, social and academic gatherings. While its proponents are vehemently promoting it, others see no reasons why it should continue. Historically, teenagers have been allowed to undergo cosmetic surgery such as Nose job (rhinoplasty) and Ear surgery (otoplasty), but now they are seeking for the many other types of cosmetic surgery. The number of teenagers seeking for cosmetic surgery is on the increase especially in the developed countries. The question is "Should teenagers be allowed to undergo cosmetic surgery despite all the risks involved?"
Invariably, plastic surgery has two main branches and they are cosmetic surgery and reconstructive plastic surgery. Reconstructive plastic surgery is basically reconstruction of abnormal appearance after illness or injury. As a matter of fact, both cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery go together for most of the justifiable cases presented by the patients for example a girl that has extremely large breast disturbing physical activities. The history of regular use of cosmetic surgery dated as far back as War World 1, and then it gave hope for the young soldiers who had sustained injuries from the war.
In the progress of time, the rich and the famous started seeking for cosmetic surgery, not for medical reasons but for aesthetic reasons. This was early considered as a taboo but because of the undying interests of the rich and the celebrities, it has now become a wide accepted practice in most of the elite circles. There are now TV reality shows on cosmetic surgery designed to promote the acceptance of cosmetic surgery. Despite the risks associated with cosmetic surgery many people are opting for it, the pathetic part of this is that teenagers are not left out. Teenagers in their own right are vehemently seeking for it and the number of teenagers seeking for cosmetic surgery is increasing day by day.
Recent hot debates in the press, academic and social gatherings, for and against teen cosmetic surgery are all missed up with diverse interests. There is a lot of misinformation beclouding the issue of teen cosmetic surgery. Many teenagers are opting for it without having deep understanding of the medical and psychological consequences of it. Thus, there is need to study the risks associated with teen cosmetic surgery and why teen cosmetic surgery should be stopped.
Sociological and Psychological Theories on Teen Cosmetic Surgery
Lori Fowler examined through sociological and psychological theories how women make sense of the desire and attainment of breast implants for graduation. Lori used a qualitative approach and focused on women ages 18-35 in the state of Texas who had received breast implants for graduation. This was done by using seven theoretical paradigms that provided a better understanding for why the daughters asked for breast implants and why parents paid for them. The reference group and social comparison theories in Lori's study explained how the women in the study were influenced to undergo cosmetic surgery by ranking themselves in the attractiveness against real friends and media icons.
The social construction of reality theory implored by Lori explained why both mothers and daughters wanted to conform to the social construction of gender, and to accomplish their gender well. According to this study, most mothers were satisfied with their decision to gift surgery to their daughters despite knowing that their gift of augmentation would ultimate result in more surgery in the future. Dr Francis Palmer is one of the world's best aesthetic plastic surgeons, on his homepage for teen cosmetic surgery, when answering the question whether cosmetic surgery is necessary to a teen's happiness and well-being, he emphatically indicated no. According to him cosmetic surgery may make you more attractive but not necessarily happier, contentment comes from within and from loving and respecting yourself and those around you. Dr. Francis Palmer is also of the opinion that teen cosmetic surgery results in body alteration which is associated with both physiological and psychological challenges that most teenagers may not be able to handle.
Genetic and Ethical Implication of Cosmetic Surgery
Scott Kristi, for the purpose of his paper defined cosmetic plastic surgery as the enhancement of normal appearance beyond the average level toward some aesthetic ideal of the head, neck and body. According to Scott, the emerging cosmetic plastic surgeries would allow us to bypass our genetic code and cheat our naturally predetermined appearances by altering the perceived external flaws and ignoring the intact internal code where the "flaws" remain.
Without these self-identified unwanted physical attributes, people who otherwise might not have been perceived as desirable mates for procreation allow themselves to be perceived as desirable enough to pass on their genes (Scott). That is to say cosmetic surgery would create an illusion that would increase mismatching in mating therefore affecting procreation genetically.
Wrong Indoctrination and Cosmetic Surgery
Merce Cuenca focuses on the early Cold War American Women's literary representation of female figures who subvert the routine acceptance of male reconstruction of female bodies and the analysis of Jean Stafford's "The Interior Castle" (1946) and Sylvia Plath's "Face Lift" and "In Plaster" (early 1960s). He further explains that, women are indoctrinated with the idea that individual efforts could bring any woman to success. This in turn gives birth to the myth of the "self-made beauty" that is now permeating every culture in form of cosmetic surgery. Moreover, construction of women primarily as objects of male desire in the press and magazine, emphasizing physical prefect model of a woman is attributed to the growing increase in demand for cosmetic surgery.
The work of Bayer on cosmetic surgery and cosmetics elucidates that the apprehension of ageing is one of the major factors that brought about cosmetic surgery. This work throws more light on the impact of today's advertisement on beauty. Today's advertisements constantly remind us that wrinkles and sagging are now not only unacceptable signs of aging but also manifestations to be prevented and corrected.
Health and Teen Cosmetic Surgery
It is obvious that the perceived main role of cosmetic surgery is to change patient's body to enhance the quality of life of the patient. However, Zuckerman and Anisha write that research indicates a more complicated relationship between cosmetic surgery and mental health variables such as self-image and quality of life. According to them, women normally report satisfaction with breast augmentation in the year following surgery but six long-term retrospective studies indicate that breast augmentation patients are significantly more likely to commit suicide, compared to women of similar age who had other plastic surgery or represent the general population. FDA stipulates that teens below the age of 18 should not be allowed to undergo breast augmentation (Food and Drug Administration).
Another fact they point out is that breast development can continue after age 18 and physiological and psychological changes occur during puberty, which are important to consider when discussing cosmetic surgery in adolescents. Zuckerman and Anisha, having studied some research papers concludes that dissatisfaction with appearance decreases with age throughout adolescence, and also many adolescents who are very dissatisfied with their appearance will feel more satisfied as they mature, especially after the age of 18, even if they do not undergo cosmetic surgery.
Disadvantages and Risks of Teen Cosmetic Surgery
Lifestyle.iloveindia.com enumerates the complications and common dangers with cosmetic surgery. These complications and risks involved during cosmetic surgery may among others include allergic reactions, hematoma, seromas, scarring, necrosis, drop in the blood pressure, nerve damage, bleeding and infection, loose stitches and even death. Other disadvantages according to Lifestyle.iloveindia.com may include slow healing, addition and imperfect results.
Zuckerman Diana, in her paper examines the impact of cosmetic surgery on a developing teen. She asserts that there are no epidemiological studies or clinical trials on the safety and long-term risks of cosmetic surgery procedures for adolescents. According to her studies the implant manufacturers report that most women have at least one serious complication within the first 3 years, including infection, hematomas and seromas, capsular contracture (a sometimes painful hardening of the breasts), loss of nipple sensation, and hypertrophic scarring (Liposuctionfyi.com). It is important to note that breast implants typically last 10 years, therefore a teenager will require repeated surgeries throughout her lifetime. Breast implants also interfere with mammography and increase the likelihood of insufficient lactation when a woman tries to breast-feed (Zuckerman).
It is rather a distributing trend that teenagers are asking for more intensive, body-altering kinds of cosmetic procedures. Teens are now seeking for Breast Enhancement with Breast Implants, Lip Augmentation, Cheek Augmentation with Check Implants, Liposuction, and even jaw altering procedures. Considering the literature review, all the cosmetic procedures significantly alter the shape of the body. Teenagers are still in their puberty stage that is to say the body of teens is still in the developing stage for example breast development may still continue after age 18, altering the breast at this stage may be disastrous. There are risks associated with these cosmetic procedures for example Liposuction is associated with damage to skin, organs or nerves, infection, blood clots and profuse fluid loss that may lead to shock or even death.
Another important point I must point out from the literature review to support my position that teen cosmetic surgery should be stopped is that six long-term retrospective studies indicate that breast augmentation patients are significantly more likely to commit suicide, compared to women of similar age who had other plastic surgery or represent the general population. We must not ignore the fact that once a teen undergoes a cosmetic surgery like that of breast augmentation with breast implant; she is faced with the reality of repeated surgeries throughout her lifetime because breast augmentation with breast implant can only last for 10 years. Teenagers seeking for breast augmentation must know that breast implants may increase the chances of insufficient lactation thereby affecting breast feeding and it may also interfere with mammography.
Cosmetic surgery may lift up your self confidence or self esteem but it will not make you happier and if any of the complications set in, you may live the rest of your life regretting. Why do you want to conform to the indoctrination of the ideal beauty being promoted by the proponents of cosmetic surgery, why don't you accept the reality of whom you are? Female teenagers want to conform to the perfect physical model of a woman being promoted in the magazine and in the press. This is a wrong perception and a negative indoctrination.
Furthermore, there are no epidemiological studies or clinical trials on the safety and long-term risks of cosmetic surgery procedures for adolescents and there is no convincing empirical research on the mental benefits of cosmetic surgery for teens. This makes the area of cosmetic surgery a no-going area to teenagers because no one can confidently say the long-term health benefits and risks associated with it. One popular singer that underwent cosmetic surgery died from drug abuse, he lived his entire life performing different kind of surgeries until he finally died. I don't believe teenagers should at their early age begin to live their life based on illusion that may one day destroy their lives.
Comparing the risks, disadvantages and the benefits of cosmetic surgery you would agree with me that the benefits are short-term, unreal and artificial while the risks are long-term, painful, and life-wrecking and may result to unforeseen disastrous consequences like painful death. With all these points, I believe, I have been able to convince and persuade you that teen cosmetic surgery should be stopped.
We all have our roles to play in stopping the menace of teen cosmetic surgery. Teen cosmetic surgery is a wrong belief and an illusion, if not stopped; most of the teenagers who may be trapped in this web of cosmetic surgery illusion may end up living the rest of their lives in sorrows and pains especially when the reality of cosmetic surgery health adverse effects set in. Therefore I recommend that the press should be considerate about the reality of cosmetic surgery and stop painting white black and black white. Parents should not fiddle with the future of their children in the name of cosmetic surgery; they should tell their children why they should not opt for cosmetic surgery. Finally the government has a prominent role to play in championing the course of stopping the menace of teen cosmetic surgery that is gradually eroding the future of our youths.
See Also: Dreams, Visions, and Empowerment; Multiple Intelligences; The Etiology of IQ; The Bane of Plagiarism; Thoughts; Human Development and Aging; Your World and You; How to Stop All Your Bad Habits in just 21 Days Thinking for You Series; The Black People: We Need A Change; Logical-Mathematical Reasoning for Teens; Regenerative Mathematics and Dimurelo Puzzles for Children; The Thoughts You Need to Think; Mathematical Discoveries; The Foundation of American Constitution: A Lesson for All
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