Given the increasing awareness of the impact of bullying on kids in our society, there’s a growing movement to prevent it. Organizations such as Rachel’s Challenge work to promote kindness and respect in schools, and there are many other groups with anti-bullying as their mission. Resources abound nowadays, including guides for keeping kids safe in cyberspace such as this one from vpnMentor.
Unfortunately, the problem continues. The U.S. government’s Stop Bullying website reported a few years ago that between 1 in 3 and 1 in 4 students say they have been bullied at school.
Sometimes, the taunts and insults have to do with a child’s appearance. So when is plastic surgery a valid strategy to combat bullying?
Coping with Bullying
Because we practice plastic surgery in New York, we do consult with kids and their parents about the prospect of surgery. Oftentimes the adults express conflicting feelings about it, and we understand. It would be better if people of all ages would simply be kind to each other. Failing that, it would be great if we could help our kids learn that it’s what’s inside that counts and what others say doesn’t matter.
In spite of parents’ best efforts, though, children don’t always cope well with relentless bullying. The Stop Bullying website maintains that negative effects occur for those who are bullied, kids who bully and even for bystanders. Read more about issues that can last into adulthood here.
Our Philosophy on Plastic Surgery for Kids
Given the potential for lasting emotional trauma, we feel that plastic surgery can be a positive step in cases where a procedure can be viewed as “correcting a problem” (rather than “beautifying” a patient). When we meet families in our New York plastic surgery consultation room, we look for these other conditions as well:
• The child wants to change the feature that’s an issue—the parents aren’t pushing for surgery.
• Even if he or she is quite young, the child is capable of understanding the procedure and handling the recovery process.
• The girl or boy has the right perspective, meaning she or he knows that surgery won’t solve every challenge they may face.
• The parents and child work together to develop a variety of ways to deal with bullying, including building inner strength.
Cosmetic Procedures for Youngsters
Many cosmetic surgery options clearly aren’t appropriate for kids. But there are a few that can make quite a difference in a child’s self-confidence and set one big obstacle aside. Here are the leading three procedures we perform for our youngest New York plastic surgery patients.
Otoplasty: Also known as ear surgery and ear pinning, otoplasty can reduce the size of a child’s ears and/or bring them closer to the head. The procedure can be performed on children as young as about five years old. What’s more, recovery involves minimal discomfort and just a few days of bandages.
A few years ago we published an article specifically about cosmetic ear surgery for children. You can find it here.
Rhinoplasty: Nose surgery is another procedure that can be performed on youngsters, although patients should be in their teens to ensure their nose has stopped growing. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reports that in 2017, nearly 9% of all nose jobs in the U.S. were for patients 18 years old or younger.
Breast Reduction: Ariel Winter, an actress on the TV show Modern Family, made a splash recently when she elected to reduce her size F breasts at age 17. In many interviews and articles, the young woman talked openly about the physical and psychological pain her breasts caused and how her health and outlook on life improved following surgery. Other teens can benefit also as long as their breast size is stable.
Breast reduction surgery for adolescent boys is one procedure we perform frequently. Our New York plastic surgery practice is known for gynecomastia expertise, and teens and even pre-teens can be candidates if they have had enlarged breasts for two years or longer. Our youngest patient to date was 12 at the time of his surgery. You can learn more about man boobs and teens on our website devoted to gynecomastia and our blog.
We sympathize with parents who struggle to develop a plan to deal with bullying their child may suffer. And we are not surprised that cosmetic surgery in these cases can seem like a drastic measure. We invite parents to visit us for a consultation, either with their child or by themselves as a first step. We pledge to provide education, then discuss the pros and cons in an honest, objective manner. The decisions belong to the family.
Give us a call at 212-570-6080 if we can be of help.