Students turn to plastic surgery

Katherine Roth

The United States has developed an obsession with physical perfection and with a medical field that fulfills our every whim for the right price; it is hard to avoid. Our desires can be answered, and our anxieties about our bodies erased due to the prevalence of plastic surgery.

“Our society places a high premium on physical attractiveness and rewards those who are slender, youthful and handsome,” study authors Mary H. McGrath, M.D./MPH, and Sanjay Mukerji, M.D. concluded.

McGrath and Mukerji are plastic and reconstructive surgeons at the George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, who published their findings in a recent issue of the Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology.

The word “plastic” comes from the Greek word “plastikos,” which means “to mold or shape.” Many of the early plastic surgeries were done to close a wound or replace tissue lost due to injury or disease. However, in modern times, there is a great deal of attention put on appearance.

While clothes, hairstyles and cosmetics are all temporary improvements, the results of plastic surgery are long-lasting. Most people seeking plastic surgery have very realistic expectations for the outcome of the procedure.

In 2004, 9.2 million plastic surgeries were performed in the United States, including those done on patients under the age of 18. But why do teenagers put themselves through the surgeries and sometimes painful recoveries afterward?

“I decided to have surgery because I had always been painfully self-conscious about my nose even though everyone else didn’t think it was that bad,” freshman Alyssa Bieler said. “After it fully healed, which took a long time, I had a lot more confidence. Even though it hurt and people look down on plastic surgery in general, I would do it again because I was doing it for myself and not anyone else.”

Cosmetic procedures most commonly done on teens are chemical peels and microdermabrasion to treat acne, laser hair removal, nose jobs, ear surgery, breast reduction, breast enlargement, chin augmentation and liposuction to remove excess body fat.

Though the results of plastic surgery can often benefit a teenager’s physical and emotional development, experts agree that some surgeries, including breast enlargement, liposuction and cheek implants, should not normally be performed on persons under the age of 18.