Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

More Girls Seek Plastic Surgery; Quests for External Perfection Can Have Troubling Implications

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

More Girls Seek Plastic Surgery; Quests for External Perfection Can Have Troubling Implications

Article excerpt


Dean Glassman, a plastic surgeon in Jacksonville, sees it all the time: a 15- or 16-year-old comes in for a consult grasping a picture of Britney Spears or some other celebrity that she wants to look like.

The parents? They're sometimes just along for the ride, and it's the girl who's needling to go under the knife.

"I see them as young as 13 or 14, and I try to put them off and put them off," he said. "As a rule, 18 is kind of my minimum."

Glassman's patients are just some of many girls in Jacksonville and across the country putting their bodies in the hands of plastic surgeons to fix imperfections and mold their flaws into something they perceive as more beautiful.

According to the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, there were 203,308 procedures performed in 2009 on those 18 and under in the United States, compared to 145,094 in 2000. In all age groups, 91 percent of cosmetic procedures were performed on females, reports the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Plastic surgery is nothing new. Many women for years elected to have a nip here, a tuck there. While local figures weren't available, there's been an increase nationally in the past five years of plastic surgery among "The Hills"-watching and high school-age demographic, the ASAPS reports.

It's the beauty ideal that some girls try to achieve and the desire to resemble celebrities that worries Lori Osachy, a psychotherapist who runs the Body Image Counseling Center in Jacksonville. She said the pressure on young women to meet a model look gives girls the idea that their worth is valued on outward appearances, and the quest for perfection is pushing girls more and more into the waiting rooms of plastic surgery offices.

"Teenage brains are very impulsive, and to make a decision based on impulse and severe pressure from the media and society to look a certain way - it's not a good time in life to make a permanent decision," she said.

She said encouraging girls to set boundaries on who they're friends with and being proud of differences could dissuade their desire for cosmetic surgery, and starting plastic surgery procedures at a young age could start a cycle of a constant need for plastic surgery or manifest into body dysmorphic disorder.

Glassman said the most appropriate surgery for the under-18 age group, whether it's fixing a little bump or giving a completely new look, is nose reshaping, because the nose stops growing usually in the mid-teens. He said in general, he won't perform breast augmentation on girls younger than 18, and if someone is coming in for liposuction, he'll be more conservative.

"It's kind of a contouring thing to get to look a little better," he said. "I wouldn't do the same liposuction on a child or teenager that I would do in an adult. I would do a light [liposuction]."

In its 2009 report, the ASPS reported the top five procedures for teens ages 13-19 in order of popularity: nose reshaping, breast reduction in boys, breast augmentation, ear pinning (otoplasty) and liposuction.

One woman who elected to have a breast augmentation at a young age is Jessica. She asked the Times-Union not to publish her full name because she didn't want to be stigmatized over her decision to have plastic surgery.

For about $3,500, the 19-year-old Jacksonville resident went from an A-cup breast size to "double Ds. …

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