Back to School Surgery: Cosmetic Makeovers for College-Bound Kids
Posted: 9/7/11 08:25 AM ET by Vivian Diller for Huffington Post
During Annie’s junior year of high school she was focused on raising her grades to make sure that she could go to the college of her choice. So it took her parents by surprise when, in Annie’s senior year, her concerns shifted to a different kind of improvement. On her 18th birthday, Annie begged her parents to finance breast implants, convincing them that their money would be well spent by giving her the enhancement she believed she needed to be successful at college.
“Back to school” used to mean shopping for notebooks, sharpening pencils and sometimes indulging in a new outfit or two. Excitement and anxiety filled the air as students’ vacations or summer jobs ended and as preparations for a new semester began. Today, more and more teens are spending their summer days — and savings — preparing to start this new chapter in their lives with surgically refreshed bodies and faces.
Last year, according to statistics provided by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), 15 percent of all procedures in the U.S. were performed on patients under age 21. For young, high school students like Annie, the most popular ones included breast augmentation (4,153), rhinoplasty (9,094) and otoplasty (10,746). While teens account for a relatively small percentage of the 9 million people currently seeking cosmetic surgery, it represents an unprecedented growing trend, (a 5 percent increase since 2009), with a total of 125,397 individuals requesting body enhancements before they reach college age.
All surgery on anyone under 18 — including cosmetic — requires parental consent. The ASAPS advises teens against following fads, but it’s up to parents to take responsibility for their child’s physical and emotional readiness for cosmetic surgery. While most doctors carefully screen teens before surgery — especially for repeat procedures — they also tell parents that some may need “surgery to improve physical characteristics they feel are awkward or flawed,” and that sometimes the “flaws, gone uncorrected, may affect them well into adulthood.”
In a survey to determined future cosmetic trends, the ASAPS reported that this age group, between 18-24, is more likely than any other to consider plastic surgery — now and in the future — when compared to all other age categories. These findings suggests that if teens did not need parental consent (or their parents’ funds), the numbers opting for surgery would likely be even higher.
And contrary to popular belief, it is not only America’s youth who are lining up at surgeons’ offices to improve their image before heading off to school. This trend has spread to China, Korea, Brazil and India. Reuters recently reported that in China, students in their teens and 20s made up 80 percent of the three million plastic surgery patients in Beijing this summer. One 21-year-old Chinese student from Shanxi spent 6000 yen ($940) to get her eyelids done before returning to school so that they looked larger and more Western. She told reporters, “I wanted to look and feel better about myself.” China is second only to the United States in the number of plastic surgery procedures performed. And more individuals are choosing to have these procedures conducted at an earlier age.
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