Cosmetic Surgery for Bullying

Bullying appears to have reached epidemic proportions in the United States. It is estimated that 160,000 American students refuse to go to school each day because of physical and verbal abuse from other students. Some studies now suggest that the stress associated with bullying can cause medical problems later in life. There appears to be a higher incidence of hypertension, depression, and often diabetes in adults who were bullied as children. With the internet, cyber-bullying is a new phenomena increasing at an exceptional rate.

Developmental psychologists note that children start perceiving differences between themselves and others at around five years of age. Once this happens, the stage is potentially set for bullying to occur.

Being different from others isn’t always easy and sometimes these differences are utilized to ridicule the individual. Children with large ears are frequently called “Dumbo.” Teenage girls with large or small breasts are frequently made fun of and stared at. Young men with abnormal breast development, a condition known as gynecomastia, are frequently unwilling to take their shirt off because of teasing. Children with nasal deformities are frequently made fun of and called names like “banana nose.”
All of these situations have one thing in common, the potential to cause psychological harm to the individual. In effort to address this problem, some parents have sought consultations with plastic surgeons. Recently polled the public to determine how people felt about the use of plastic surgery to prevent a teen from being bullied. They polled 650 people and asked them if they would allow their child to undergo surgery to decrease bullying. In this study, 68% were in favor of plastic surgery to prevent bullying and 32% were not.

The American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons has reported that 132,000 cosmetic surgery procedures were performed on teenagers between 13 and 19 last year.

At Aesthetic Surgical Images, in Omaha, we frequently see patients who have been teased by their peers and are requesting cosmetic surgery. These patients frequently have prominent ears, nasal deformities, large breasts, small breasts, male breast development and a variety of other problems.

We feel that the decision to undergo cosmetic surgery is a highly personal decision and each patient needs to be considered as an individual. Cosmetic surgery is not always the right answer, but for many patients it unquestionably increases their self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-image. In the presence of bullying, these changes can make the difference between normal psychosocial adjustment and problems that may occur throughout the patient’s lifetime.