Should Teens be Allowed to have Cosmetic Surgery?

In today’s society, the standard of beauty has evolved causing insecurities among teens. The beauty standards affect teens self-esteem, causing them to oversee their natural beauty. Cosmetic surgery has become a popular procedure among teens. According to a cosmetic surgery center, Cosmetic Surgery Center, in 2012, there were more than 236,000 cosmetic procedures performed on patients between the ages of 13 and 19 including more than 75,000 surgical procedures (Teen Plastic SurgeryFad or Fabulous). Cosmetic surgery is a medical procedure that is for appearances, not for health reasons.  It seems teens believe that having surgery will make them more attractive to others and make them feel better about themselves, due to having low self-esteem. People support the idea that teens should be allowed to make the decision because it is their body and their parents shouldn’t have a say in it however, they may be too young for body autonomy. Despite what others are saying, teenagers should not be allowed to undergo cosmetic surgery because of the harmful effects the procedure has. Also, teens who get cosmetic surgery get it to look better and this may be based on opinion or fad and may change over time.  Cosmetic surgery is also bad for teens because too much money is being spent on trying to keep up an image and this depreciates their self-value and self-esteem.

 Cosmetic surgery may have harmful effects therefore teenagers should wait until they are adults to elect to have such a procedure.  Surgery is a major event for one’s body to experience.  Cosmetic surgery may involve removing pieces of the body, such as removing fat for liposuction.  Cosmetic surgery may also involving adding things to the body such as fillers or implants.  Both of these things may cause trauma to the body and to undergo them one usually requires the use of anesthesia.  The Mayo Clinic is a prestigious medical center, they warn about the consequences to cosmetic surgery.  The Mayo Clinic says,

 Possible complications for any surgical procedure include: Complications related to anesthesia,  including pneumonia, blood clots and, rarely, death. Infection at the incision site, which may  worsen scarring and require additional surgery. Fluid build up under the skin. Mild bleeding,  which may require another surgical procedure, or bleeding significant enough to require a  transfusion. Obvious scarring or skin breakdown, which occurs when healing skin separates from  healthy skin and must be removed surgically. Numbness and tingling from nerve damage, which  may be permanent. (Mayo Clinic Staff).

The complications to anesthesia may be the worst because there is the possibility of death.  The Mayo Clinic does indicate that it is rare to die from complications from anesthesia but it is still a possibility.  For a young person to choose to do this for aesthetic purposes is taking too big of a risk with their life for superficial purposes.  Additionally there is risk of scarring or infection.  If a teenager is electing to having surgery for cosmetic reasons and it leaves a scar that would defeat the purpose of the cosmetic alteration in a way.  The risk of infection could cause medical problems that could lead to death as well. These are heavy risks for something that is not guaranteed.  These harmful effects are too costly for a teenager to just choose to undergo it.

 Teens electing to get cosmetic surgery may be a premature decision as it may be related to a fad or passing opinion.  One reason teens may prematurely choose to get cosmetic surgery is because it is pushed on them by the entertainment and advertising industry in many ways.  One way the entertainment industry pushes beauty standards on teens is through the use of unhealthy beauty ideals by using computer graphics, airbrushing, and other falsified methods.  This leads the teens to believe that this is desired although it may be fake and truly unattainable.  Sociologist Hawkins, as cited in the Journal of Psychology of Popular Media Culture attests to this by saying, Media images of idealized female beauty have further been found to be associated with diverse psychological consequences ranging from depression to anger to eating disorders (Markey & Markey, p210).   The media in general uses a vast array of techniques to influence beauty standards and desires towards them.  This particularly evident in women and teenagers, affecting adolescents’ and young adults’ development of attitudes regarding attractiveness, research suggests that the media may affect behaviors aimed at modifying or improving one’s physical appearance (Markey & Markey, p210).  When teens see these images it makes them feel badly about themselves and then they desire to change their appearance.

 Another way the entertainment industry pushes unhealthy beauty standards on teens is through advertising.  Most advertisements are to try and persuade its viewer into purchasing the product or watching the film or doing something in the monetary benefit of the advertiser.  Specifically the cosmetic surgery industry advertises and those advertisements may be alarming because they are trying to convince someone to elect to get cosmetic surgery.  A study published in the journal of Psychology of Popular Media Culture, Dr. Ashikali determined that cosmetic surgery ads may be harmful.  Dr. Ashikali’s study concluded, Exposure to cosmetic surgery advertising led to increased dissatisfaction with weight (Ashikali, et al, 2017).  This means that people who viewed these cosmetic surgery ads felt unhappy with their appearance and possibly desired cosmetic surgery.  For a teen this may be especially detrimental because they are just developing a sense of who they are who and they want to be.  This negative persuasion may have devastating effects on their psyche and self-esteem.  The problem is that it is not just advertisements that cause this in young adults.  The entertainment industry’s entertainment value content has similar effects. 

 The entertainment industry is engrossed in popular culture and many of the aspects of this culture promotes negative body image, which in turn promotes the desire for cosmetic surgery.  One form of entertainment that is popular today is reality television.  There are even realty television shows about cosmetic surgery transformations and these negatively impact the youth and falsely promote cosmetic surgery. Cosmetic surgery reality shows typically paint cosmetic surgery in a positive light.  This gives a false representation of the whole process of cosmetic surgery and does not take into account the long term effects of cosmetic surgery such as regret or change in opinion or desire.  Sociologists Markey and Markey discovered a connection between watching reality television shows about cosmetic surgery and desire for cosmetic surgery.  The correlation that Markey and Markey mentioned says, female participants’ own interest in pursuing cosmetic surgery and their positive responses to the media message they viewed is consistent with past research indicating a link between cosmetic surgery themed reality TV and adolescents’ and adults’ own interest in cosmetic surgery (Markey, p216). This can create a problem for women within the community as there is evidence that more attractive women face more negative criticism and behaviors for women who deem themselves lesser attractive.  The Journal of Evolutionary Behavioral Science states that, Differential levels of attractiveness can even promote discord within close female friendships, with the less attractive friend perceiving more mating rivalry within the dyad (DelPriore, p348). Cosmetic surgery makes women more competitive with each other and this has more consequences for teenagers than it does for adults because teenagers are still developing their own opinions and views of each themselves and each other.  This extra competition makes being one with the community harder and causes the teens to be alienated from their peers because of the contempt. 

 When teens rely on plastic surgery to boost their self esteem it may backfire.  Cosmetic surgery does not teach teens to value themselves, instead it imposed aesthetic morals on them and degrades their self esteem.  It teaches them to rely on their outer appearance as a determinant for their value.  It is possible that the cosmetic procedure will not give them the outcome they expected.  For example the procedure could make them look a way that they did not expect and their self esteem may suffer more.  A study published by the American Psychological Association written by Melissa Dittman confirmed

 Several predictors of poor outcomes, especially for those who hold unrealistic expectations or have a history of depression and anxiety. The researchers found that patients who are dissatisfied with  surgery may request repeat procedures or experience depression and adjustment problems, social  isolation, family problems, self-destructive behaviors and anger toward the surgeon and his or her  staff. (Dittman, 2005)

This could create a negative cycle of relying on cosmetic surgery for self acceptance and this is very unhealthy mentally and physically.  The personal cost of the cosmetic surgery is too high for a teen to risk and therefore they should wait until adulthood. 

 Cosmetic surgery is not all bad and it does have its benefits.  Proponents of cosmetic surgery for teenagers believe it promotes body autonomy.  According to Sarah Jean, staff writer of The Medium, body autonomy is, the idea that everyone has final say or jurisdiction over their bodies (Jean, 2017).  The concept of body autonomy is basically the ability to decide what happens or does not happen to one’s own body.  This relates to many aspects of life.  For example if a young girl does not want to be touched, this is her exuding bodily autonomy.  If a teen has poor self esteem because of a physical quality, promoting bodily autonomy suggests that they be allowed to handle that problem how they see fit.  Allowing a teen to get a piercing or tattoos is a demonstration of bodily autonomy as well.  This may be a good and needed lesson in a teens life.  Proponents of cosmetic surgery for teens say it promotes bodily autonomy and that is correct it does.  It allows the teen to decide whether or not to surgically alter their appearance how they see fit.  When one is teaching bodily autonomy how does one say no to plastic surgery without being hypocritical, it is not really possible.  Cosmetic surgery does have some benefits however, it may have more detrimental effects so teens and their guardians should exercise extra caution if deciding to do so.

  Teenagers should not be allowed to undergo cosmetic surgery because of the harmful effects the procedure may have.  This is not to say that people should never have cosmetic surgery because there are some known benefits.  One major reason that teens should not elect to have cosmetic surgery is because there is the risk of serious health problems, including death, specifically related to the anesthesia.  The problem is that when teens elect to undergo cosmetic surgery it may be for the wrong reasons.  The entertainment industry plays a heavy role in beauty standards and have been know to idealize unrealistic beauty standards.  If teens are being influenced by the entertainment industry they are likely choosing to undergo cosmetic surgery for the wrong reasons.  This may have severe consequences to their self esteem.  There are some known benefits for teens electing to undergo cosmetic surgery, such as bodily autonomy.  When teens are exerting bodily autonomy it may be hypocritical to tell them they can not have cosmetic surgery.  Allowing them this choice does teach them bodily autonomy however the benefits of this do not outweigh the risks.  Ultimately teens should wait until adulthood before they undergo elective surgery such as cosmetic surgery.

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Should Teens Be Allowed To Have Cosmetic Surgery?. (2019, Oct 30). Retrieved July 25, 2021 , from
https://studydriver.com/should-teens-be-allowed-to-have-cosmetic-surgery/

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