Plastic Surgery: Not All It’s Cut Out to Be
Sabrina Joseph, 16
Khorally Pierre, 14
Do you feel pressure to be flawless? Are you considering plastic surgery to achieve perfection? Think again! Plastic surgery is not all it's cut out to be—no pun intended!
Thousands of teen girls are going under the knife without knowing the risks. One of the most popular cosmetic procedures among girls is breast implants. What is it with big boobs anyway? Do girls feel bigger breasts lead to more attention? Teen Voices made it their mission to educate girls on the harsh reality of cosmetic surgery, particularly breast augmentation.
What is plastic surgery?
Plastic surgery is a special type of surgery that alters, repairs, or reconstructs a person's physical defects or features. There are two types of plastic surgery: reconstructive and cosmetic. People get plastic surgery for multiple reasons. Some get it to change parts of their body they are unsatisfied with while others undergo it for medical reasons.
Some medical conditions that might require plastic surgery include birth defects or traumatic injuries. Issues requiring reconstructive surgery may affect a person's daily life, causing them physical or psychological trauma. An example of a situation requiring reconstructive surgery includes breast implants after a woman has received a double mastectomy, a procedure by which both breasts are removed as a treatment for breast cancer. Implants are used to make the woman look like she has breasts again after they've been removed.
This isn't always why women and girls go under the knife. Many undergo cosmetic surgery to improve their looks and boost their self-confidence. Cosmetic surgery changes a part of the body a person is dissatisfied with. Breast augmentation, a type of cosmetic surgery, is one of the most popular procedures today and despite various risks, teen girls are opting to undergo surgery for bigger boobs.
Growing breasts and growing numbers
As the number of breast augmentation operations increase, so does the amount of teens going under the knife. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported last year that the number of teens under 18 years old who received breast implants between 2002 and 2003 nearly tripled from 3,872 to 11,326. According to the book Our Bodies, Ourselves, more than 300,000 women and teenagers reported having breast implants in 2008.
Many teens are even receiving plastic surgery as a high school graduation gift. Whereas many graduates pack up a beat-up Volvo and head to college, some recent graduates are arriving on campus with a new set of "headlights" at a cost of between $4,000 and $8,000 in the United States. "I think it's just becoming more and more common and mainstream," says Beth Katz, an intern at Our Bodies, Ourselves, a nonprofit organization that provides information on women's health. "As the numbers go up for the rest of the population, the numbers go up for teens as well. You see it in the media everyone's getting breast implants," Katz says.
If you are considering breast implants, it is important to know and understand the legal aspects. The Food and Drug Administration banned breast augmentation for those under 18 unless it is for reconstructive purposes, and those between the ages of 18 and 22 can only have the option of saline-filled breast implants rather than the controversial silicone-filled implants.
Why are teens getting breast implants?
Why are teens opting to have plastic surgery? Why can't we just be happy with the way we look? "I think a lot of it has to do with the media and everything that teens see in the media with big breasts being associated with beauty. Teens especially are always willing to make themselves feel better and feel more confident," says Katz.
No one is perfect though; after all, what is perfection? Oftentimes, flaws make people unique and beautiful! "Girls sharing their story about being imperfect and everyone openly talking about [what they feel their imperfections are] would help," says Katz. Teens such as Christina Joseph, 16, have a similar opinion. "Breast implants are a waste of time, especially for girls that are under 18 years old. You should love your body and take care of it because you'll have it for the rest of your life. So why waste time and money paying for a surgery that changes the real you?"
Before many plastic surgeons operate, they not only question their teens but also have them undergo psychological testing to determine whether or not they are mature enough to make this decision. Teens are asked various questions including, "why do you want to do the surgery?" so the surgeon can find out the teen's motivation. Surgeons also check to make sure patients don't have any personality disorders that might negatively influence their decision to get plastic surgery. Still there are no guidelines requiring plastic surgeons to analyze or discuss the choice with their patients.
Risks and implants gone wrong
Katz advises teens to "look into all of the health risks beforehand and to be prepared to deal with the consequences. If they do decide to go with it, they should continue checking to make sure that the breast implants aren't hurting their health as they get older."
Some of the risks of breast implants include infection, chronic breast pain, breast or nipple numbness, capsular contracture (when the immune system rejects the implant), breakage and leakage, and necrosis (when the body tissue around the implant dies). These issues may require additional surgery. Other risks include "cosmetic" problems with the way the breasts look, such as abnormal nipple. Some women are dissatisfied with their implants because they don't look natural or their saline-filled implants make sloshing sounds (breastimplantinfo.com).
Implants can also affect other areas of women's health. Some women might have problems breast feeding after undergoing augmentation. According to The National Cancer Institute, breast implants have been linked to causing cancer and interfering with mammograms, a type of screening that helps detect breast cancer. Kacey Long received saline implants at 19 and suffered from chronic fatigue, loss of hair, muscle tremors, dizziness, memory disturbances and other symptoms. A spokesperson against saline implants, she had them removed and is still recovering from both the financial blow and the debilitating symptoms. "I am seeing a doctor who specializes in treating damaged muscles, nerves and joints. I also regularly visit a chiropractic and acupuncture specialist," she writes on her website. (www.implantsout.com) She is currently creating an organization to educate women on the risks of saline implants.
Many women find their breasts grow more in their late teens and early twenties, and the self-consciousness that may have driven them to originally seek surgery tends to wane as time goes on. "They cause a lot of serious health risks that people don't usually mention and they're especially bad in teens that are still growing," says Katz. "In terms of self-esteem and self-confidence for teens, I don't think breast implants are the way to get that. It's about learning to accept and love the bodies that you have."
The risks of cosmetic surgery for girls under the age of eighteen are undeniably high. It's time to educate girls on the reality of going under the knife but even more so, it's time teens began feeling good about the bodies they have.
11 Responses »
Leave a Response