Under the knife, many believe perfection awaits

By Kaitlin Barr
April 26, 2007

Sam Randol

Almost all teens are self-conscious about one, two or even many things about their bodies. They constantly dream about having the perfect face, and the perfect body to go along with it. Some teens grow out of their self-consciousness; some, on the other hand, choose to have surgery to correct those specific faults.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, in 2006, an estimated 40 percent of teenagers wanted to seek out plastic surgery and 335,000 girls and boys under the age of 18 went through with it. Although teenagers account for less than two percent of the 11.5 million surgical and non-surgical surgeries in the United States alone, the statistics grow each year.

Katie Lynn, now 21, was one of those teenagers who dreamed of having the perfect body. At the age of 18, she decided to under-go surgery to change a few things about herself.

“I always thought I was really cute, but cute wasn’t good enough for me,” Lynn said. “I wanted to go to college being irresistible. That’s not too much to ask I don’t think.”

Not liking the size of her size-B breasts or the way her nose slightly curved to the right, or even the way she had a little bit of flab at the top of her legs, Lynn decided to change it all.

“My parents came to me before graduation and gave me the option of going away to school for all four years or staying at home for the first two years and having the surgery. I chose the surgery. It seemed better for me.”

Tasha Doyle, now 26, had a similar offer from her parents while she was in high school. “I’d been waiting tables since I was 14 and was willing to spend money that would pay for half of the surgery to have my ears fixed. My parents came to me when I was about 15, said if I worked for another year after high school, that I could go live away for the last three if I wanted the surgery that bad; and oh did I want that surgery bad. I couldn’t wait until I was a little older so I could have it done.”

Chicago plastic surgeon Dr. Sam Speron writes on his Web site that says he can’t think of a scenario in which he would perform cosmetic surgery on anyone under 16. Even if they are under 18 years old, he goes through rigorous methods of determining whether the teenager is ready for surgery or not.

Hour-long consultations along with follow-up meetings are scheduled with him alone with the teen, to make sure they understand the surgery completely as well as the consequences and complications that may arise with surgery. Dr. Speron also checks that the teenager is the one who really wants the surgery, that they’re not getting pressured into it by anyone else, even their parents.

“I didn’t care how much it cost, as long as I looked good in the end,” Lynn said. “That may sound extremely selfish but oh well, that’s just how I feel!”

In 2006, the top five surgeries performed on teenage girls included rhinoplasty (nose jobs), cosmetic ear surgery, liposuction, breast augmentation and breast reduction. Because girls’ bodies develop faster than boys, it is more likely for girls to have plastic surgery while they’re in their teenage years.

“I had been teased all my life about the size of my ears and how they stuck out so far. My parents came to me when I was 15 but the doctor said I wasn’t fully developed yet, that I had to wait until I was 17. On my 17th birthday, I had an appointment at the doctors to see if I could finally have this done. It was the best birthday present I could have ever gotten.”

Although some teens are going through surgery just to make themselves feel better, some truly do need the surgeries to better their health. Now 19, Alexis Staub has already gone through a breast reduction.

“I was having such bad back pains, trouble sleeping at night, and sores on my shoulders from my bra straps. I had to get specialty bras made to fit me because I was a 32 DD and getting bigger everyday; and let me tell you, that’s not cheap.”

Now that technology has changed, surgeries are safer and more options are becoming available, the rise of plastic surgery will continue to increase over the years.

“I won’t ever want to have kids,” Doyle explained, “but if I did, I would offer them the same deal my parents offered me, because it’s changed my life that much for the better.”

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Kaitlin Barr

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