Plastic surgery is a well-known topic. It has been highly discussed for years by both supporters and opponents of operations. However, lately, a new problem within this subject has occurred. The question is whether teenagers should be allowed to have surgery. This paper examines the effects of plastic surgery on teenagers. It provides negative effects of the surgery with proofs collected from different studies. It also argues that there are some positive consequences of surgery. However, another section contains refutation of these arguments providing the information that proves that positive effects are temporary. There are also examples of the effects of surgery collected from my personal experience. It also contains evidence that plastic surgery is life-threatening, and people tend to ignore the possible side effects of the operation. Finally, it concludes that plastic surgery is very dangerous because it is impossible to predict its consequences, and it may worsen the patient’s condition.
There are times when everybody finds his or her look not good enough. Somebody would like to change their nose, while others do not like lips or breasts. In such situations, some people decide to consult plastic surgeons in order to change the feature they do not like. It is not a problem when adults undergo plastic surgery since they are mature enough to take their own decisions. However, the cases when adolescents decide to have plastic surgery are becoming very frequent lately. This fact stresses the importance to analyze the reasons behind the decision to undergo surgery, positive and negative consequences, and dangers plastic operations pose on teenagers as well as establish whether it is reasonable to allow minors to have surgery.
The consequences of plastic surgery are unpredictable. Most of people undergo plastic surgery for a simple reason, namely they are not happy with their appearance. Therefore, they find the easiest solution, which is an operation. In this situation, all they have to do is tell the doctor what they do not like and how they would like to change it. A few days or weeks after the operation, they get the look they wanted. However, in this situation there is high possibility of serious problems after the operation, in addition to the consequences for health. The point here is that the patient may not be satisfied with the results of the operation. For instance, one of my mother’s friends had breast augmentation. However, she was not satisfied with the result and felt depressed because of it. As a result, she had to visit her therapist to improve her condition. The article written by Crerand and Magee also confirms this aspect. They claim that adolescent boys who underwent gynecomastia correction were unsatisfied with postoperative outcome (Crerand, & Magee, 2013, p. 74). Moreover, they were reported to have psychological problems due to the issues with regard to their breasts before the operation. These problems included eating pathology, depression symptoms, and social anxiety. Therefore, they agreed to have operation to get rid of both physical and psychological problems. However, the situation did not change much. Despite the fact that many gynecomastia problems are thought to be resolved after the operation, this happens only in theory. In reality, psychological problems do not disappear that easily. As Crerand and Magee (2013) put it, “clinical experience suggests that surgery does not improve psychosocial functioning for all” (p. 74).
Furthermore, some patients claim that they were not satisfied with the outcome of the operation even when technically the procedure was successful (Crerand, & Magee, 2013, p. 74). While many people do plastic operations to improve their looks, there is a high possibility that a patient will not be satisfied with its results.
On the other hand, some people claim that after plastic surgery they feel better about themselves. Accordingly, teenagers tend to undergo plastic surgery. The image of perfect woman presented by the mass media makes teenage girls jealous and insecure. For example, most of girls of my age that I know while reading magazines with models often say that they want to be just as skinny and pretty as the girl from the cover is. The majority of women tend to be satisfied with the results of the surgery, and there is evidence that indicates improvements in self-esteem and depression symptoms (Crerand, & Magee, 2013, p. 73). Moreover, women who did breast augmentation claim that after the operation, their boy image has improved (Crerand, & Magee, 2013, p. 73). Furthermore, studies indicate that psychological burden on adolescents who underwent cosmetic surgery has reduced; authors of this study also concluded that in these cases, the surgery improved teenagers physically, psychologically, and emotionally and helped them attain satisfaction with their body (Singh, 2015, p. 57). Many researchers indicate that after the operation, women tend to be satisfied with the result and with their looks. Thus, many studies prove that women are happier after the surgery since they claim that they feel better and are very confident and satisfied with their bodies.
However, it is important to note that there are no scientific proof indicating that there is any connection between plastic surgery and self-esteem (Zuckerman, & Abraham, 2008, p. 321). Moreover, several studies indicate that patients who underwent plastic surgery felt better only about the altered body part, while the overall body image did not change (Zuckerman, & Abraham, 2008, p. 321). For instance, my cousin had surgery on her nose. After the operation, she admitted that she indeed liked her nose better; however, she still did not like other parts of her body, and her self-esteem did not change. Therefore, the role of plastic surgery in improving patients’ self-esteem is very questionable.
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Plastic surgery is a solution for teenagers who have problems with some body parts and want to live normal life. For instance, surgery can help teenage girls who have very big breasts. Girls with macromastia report to have lower self-esteem and problems associated with the size of their breasts such as back pain, discomfort with the size of their breasts, and difficulties in finding bras and clothes that are comfortable and fashionable (Crerand, & Magee, 2013, p. 74). Moreover, macromastia is associated with eating disorders. Girls often try to lose weight hoping that their breast will also reduce. The studies suggest that breast reduction patients are highly satisfied with the postoperative results, namely more than 90% of them claim that they would have done the surgery again or recommend it to others (Crerand, & Magee, 2013, p. 74). For instance, one girl from my neighborhood had breast reduction surgery. She claimed that before the surgery, she was not confident and could not find the clothes that would fit her. However, after the operation, she was happy with her look. Thus, many teenagers decide to have surgery because they have some problems with particular body parts. The results of many studies show that surgery in this case helps patients to feel better and lead normal lifestyle.
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In addition, plastic operation can help teenagers feel more confident, more adult, and happy. It is not a secret that teenagers feel the pressure from their classmates and friends, especially this is true when they are somehow different form their peers. Hence, that is not surprising that they want to be attractive. Girls try to become as attractive as possible since they are influenced by the fact that people with an attractive appearance get attributes assigned such as being nicer, more sincere, warmer, more social, more sensitive, more interesting, stronger and have a better personality than people who are less attractive (McGrath, & Mukerji, 2000, p. 105). Very often, they decide to do an operation to become prettier. For instance, Kaley Jenner was not very confident before she made surgery. However, after the operation, she became very popular and adult. She wrote a book, made a collection of clothes, and took many photo shoots showing her body and appearance. Moreover, the girls that took part in the research conducted by Fowler and Moore indicated that their body image was dependent on “the imagination of one’s appearance to the other person; the imagination of his or her judgment of that appearance” (Fowler, & Moore, 2012, p. 112) and did not feel feminine enough prior the breast augmentation. However, after the operation, the situation drastically changed. As one patient states, “I’m confident in what I wear. I don’t lack confidence because of my chest anymore” (Fowler, & Moore, 2012, p. 112). Furthermore, most of the subjects agreed that they had never experienced so much confidence and comfort in clothing, and they said that would do it again if necessary. Their mothers also agreed that the surgery was worth any risks if it increased their daughters’ confidence (Fowler, & Moore, 2012, p. 115). Many researches prove that plastic surgery helps people feel more confident, attractive and adult.
Moreover, there are some psychological reasons behind the desire to undergo plastic operations, which can lead to serious outcomes. For instance, adolescents who decide to have surgery claim that they are not content with some specific body parts and with their looks as a whole. The extent of their dissatisfaction may indicate that they have BDD. In fact, BDD or body dysmorphic disorder occurs when a person thinks that he or she has some defects in the appearance or this defect exists and is minor, but this does not allow the person to lead normal life, causing significant impairments. Some research conducted indicates that 7% to 15% of patients who decide to have plastic surgery have BDD (Zuckerman, & Abraham, 2008, p. 321). The results also indicate that the surgery is unlikely to solve the problem and may even worsen the BDD. Moreover, there are better treatment options for such patients, for example, therapy or psychotropic medication (Zuckerman, & Abraham, 2008, p. 321). For example, one of my friends was not satisfied with her appearance, namely she did not like her nose, which was too big in her opinion. However, her parents prohibited her to do the surgery and instead made her visit the psychologist. After a few months, she agreed that her appearance was nice and nose was normal. Furthermore, the consequences for physical health are also very serious. First of all, it is an operation, and it is always a risk. For instance, in case of breast implants, a woman may experience problems connected with macromastia such as back pain, the risk of developing capsular contracture and other complications requiring surgery over time. Therefore, a person who undergoes breast augmentation may require repeated surgery during the whole lifetime. What is more, several studies prove that breast implants increase the possibility of insufficient lactation when a woman tries to breastfeed. In addition, breast augmentation surgery lowers the chances to detect 55% of cancerous breast tremors (Zuckerman, & Abraham, 2008, p. 319). Therefore, many studies show that the consequences of plastic surgery are too dangerous since they have long-lasting negative effects on physical health and may cause serious mental problems.
It is worth indicating that young people should not have plastic operation because their body is still changing and developing. Moreover, the body image of adolescents is continually changing responding to external and internal factors, and what they find not attractive and not feminine during their teenage years may be considered pretty when they mature even without plastic surgery (Zuckerman, & Abraham, 2008, p. 20). For example, one girl from my school wanted to have bigger breasts, but her parents told her to wait until the age of 21 and have the surgery if she still wanted. However, when she reached puberty, she agreed that did not need surgery and liked her appearance. Therefore, plastic surgery should be banned for adolescents because their body is still in transition, and their opinion about it may change over time.
The problem is that plastic operations do not reach their goal. The role of plastic surgery is to change the patient’s body image, and thus to help them improve their quality of life (Zuckerman, & Abraham, 2008, p. 320). The question here is whether the surgery actually does it. The relationship between the plastic surgery and mental variables, which are self-image and the quality of life, is rather complex. The studies show that generally women are satisfied with the result of the surgery in the year following the procedure. In fact, these studies are only the reports that doctors collect from their patients after the operation. The majority of studies indicated the beneficial effect of the operation. However, these studies were very short since the observation lasted only for six months. For instance, one of my acquaintances who had rhinoplasty was very happy with her new nose. This happiness lasted only for five months, and after that, she regretted the operation. After the improvement of the research method, the beneficial effects were very limited. For instance, one study comparing the preoperative and postoperative assessments showed that the dissatisfaction with the body image changed but only with regard to the altered body part, while the overall body image and satisfaction with the body in general did not change (Zuckerman, & Abraham, 2008, p. 321). There are no scientific records proving that plastic surgery helps patients improve body image, self-esteem, or the quality of life in the long run. In fact, there are proofs stating that people’s satisfaction with their appearance will improve with time even without plastic surgery (Ng, Yeak, Phoon, & Lo, 2014, p. 424).
Moreover, another 2-year follow-up study of patients who underwent breast augmentation indicated that the subjects did not show improvement on most measures of self-esteem, confidence or life quality. Furthermore, some of the subjects scored lower than before the surgery. The only improvement they showed was connected to the attractiveness of their breasts (Zuckerman, & Abraham, 2008, p. 321). Therefore, if the goal of plastic surgery is to make women feel better about themselves, the results of the study suggest that it is not reached.
However, it is important to learn the real causes that make teenagers undergo surgery. In case with macromastia, girls tend to lie that it will be better to have smaller breasts. The reality is that their peers tease and bully them (Crerand, & Magee, 2013, p. 74). Therefore, they want to do the operation and stop mockery. Moreover, the studies on the satisfaction do not provide relevant information because they include only short-term results. The research examining long-term results indicates slightly different results and proves that patients regret the surgery two years after the procedure (Zuckerman, & Abraham, 2008, p. 321). For instance, my friend once decided that she wanted and needed bigger breasts and had surgery. However, after that she experienced stress and discomfort in her new body. She regretted the operation and decided to remove the implants. Thus, many studies indicate that teenagers are likely to be unhappy with the results of surgery and may regret the operation.
One of the most serious problems is that teenagers do not fully understand the dangers of the procedure and that it is life-threatening. Young adolescents very often feel the pressure from their peers. Everybody knows how it is difficult to be a teenager with all your emotions, thoughts, and mood swings during the puberty period. In addition to personal problems and dilemmas, teenagers feel pressure from their peers and the media showing the images of perfect women. Undoubtedly, they want to be perfect and accepted into society. They will do everything it takes to be just like the rest of their classmates. Therefore, their best solution is plastic surgery. The problem is that they tend to think only of the positive effects such as change of the feature they do not like about themselves. Constantly focusing on their desires, they miss the risks of the plastic surgery. The research conducted in Singapore in May 2010 proves that fact. The results show that the participants of the research that were college students and medical college students knew nothing about the risks connected with plastic surgery. They also tended to minimize the risks and paid more attention to the desired results (Ng et al., 2014, p. 425). For instance, most of my friends know about plastic surgery from TV shows. They are unaware of risks, and they think that surgery is very safe. However, the risks of operation are very dangerous. For instance, the operation connected with inserting breast implants is considered a very safe procedure. Nevertheless, this operation may cause bleeding, infection, or poor recovery after the surgery.
Moreover, other risks may occur such as capsular contracture or the implant may start leaking. In such situation, other surgery may be required. Plastic surgery has also risks associated with anesthesia (Singh, 2015, p. 58). Furthermore, even if the operation was successful, the patient is content with its outcome and no dangers during the operation appear, it is not a reason to relax. Several studies have found that suicide rate among breast augmentation patients is two to three times higher than the patients who underwent other plastic surgery or women who represent general population (Creerand, & Magee, 2013, p. 73). Therefore, teenagers that decided to have plastic surgery are not aware of its risks and consequences. They make the decision grounded on their desire to change the appearance and to be accepted by peers. The results of much research indicate that they minimize the risks associated with the operation and make the decision grounded on the information obtained from the mass media. Teenagers remain ignorant of the fact that the risks of additional operations may occur and that some studies found that patients who had specific types of plastic surgery show higher suicide rates than other patients or the population in general.
In summary, plastic surgery has always been a controversial issue. It became even more serious since teenagers undertake more operations. One can never be sure if the adolescent is mature enough to make the decision. However, it is known for sure that the consequences of surgery are very serious, and teenagers are often unaware of them. It is not enough just to make sure that adolescents know the risks before they undergo an operation. The thing that people forget about is that plastic surgery cannot make a person feel better about his or her appearance. The problem is not how somebody looks like, but it is in the way people perceive themselves. Unfortunately, plastic surgery does not improve mental health, while it can even make the situation worse. Surgery is always is a risk since a patient can never foresee its outcomes. People should not forget about it, especially parents and teenagers that decide to permanently change their looks.