FLOWER MOUND (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s a growing trend across the United States and in North Texas. Children are going under the knife to correct physical flaws and to prevent bullying.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 218,909 cosmetic procedures were performed on teenagers in 2010, but is plastic surgery at a young age correcting a problem or creating a new one?
Aubrey Woodward is only 13 years old, but the seventh grader from Flower Mound is already considering her first plastic surgery.
“When I have my hair down, my ear sticks out,” she explained.
Aubrey and her sister Brooke, 11, were born with a slight physical deformity. The fold near the top of the ears did not develop, causing their ears to pretrude more than usual.
“I told my husband that there was a possibility that they would have that,” their mother, London said, “but we didn’t want to bring it up and cause them to feel bad about their ears if it’s never bothered them.”
London had the same physical deformity.
“I would hear all kinds of things, Dumbo, whatever,” she explained, “I didn’t like it, it made me feel insecure.”
After years of ridicule, she had her right ear pinned back as an adult, but now she’s considering letting her daughters get the procedure even earlier.
“Now they’ve been teased a little bit in elementary and in junior high,” she said, “so it’s something I think they want to do, so we’re behind them.”
Aubrey has just recently started getting made fun of because of her ears.
“People judge you on a lot of other things,” she said, “and then when you add and ear to it, it makes you feel bad.”
Dr. Robert Anderson of the Fort Worth Plastic Surgery Center has seen patients as young as five years old turning to plastic surgery to combat problems such as teasing, ridicule and bullying.
“The psychological benefits of doing the surgery far outweigh any theoretical or potential psychological damage that could occur,” the Fort Worth plastic surgeon said.
The number of procedures performed on patients under the age of 19 has increased more than 25 percent in the last five years, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. In 2006, there were only 174,851 procedures compared to nearly 219,000 last year.
The most common procedures performed on teens last year were nose jobs, male breast reduction, ear pinning, female breast augmentation and liposuction.
Dr. Anderson said many of those procedures he simply will not do on a teenager.
“You really have to determine whether you’re doing something to the child or for the child,” he said.
“The issue at hand is not to enhance beauty but to correct a physical deformity,” said Cook Children’s Child Psychiatrist Dr. Thomas Murphy who believes plastic surgery can improve a child’s self esteem, but parents need to ask themselves if the procedure is really necessary.
“If that becomes the issue, a doctor like me thinks narcissism,” Dr. Murphy said, “too much focus on oneself.”
But Woodward said she’s going to let her children decide just how necessary it is.
“I think that it’s definitely a personal choice for the girls,” she said.
While Aubrey is ready, Brooke is holding off.
“It’s not really bugging me right now,” the 11-year-old said, “because I don’t really care about it.”