Whether it's lip fillers, breast augmentations or rhinoplasty, surgeons claim an increasing number of teens are looking to ‘enhance’ their appearance to ensure they have good ‘selfies’ on their Instagram and Facebook accounts. Some have functional reasons for needing surgery, such as not being able to breathe properly through their nose or having issues with having noticeably enlarged breasts. But plastic surgeons say a surprising number of teens are requesting procedures — particularly on their faces — due to bullying and being influenced by celebrities and social media.
“There definitely has been a rise in the number of teenagers who come seeking surgery for the sake of social media and also to ‘fit’ into the current celebrity trends,” says Dr Anand K, plastic surgeon, Sparsh Group of Hospitals. Claiming that mid-term vacations and summer vacations are when they see a surge in teenagers, especially high school students, coming in for surgeries, another plastic surgeon in the city says, “About five years ago, I would see around two teenagers per month, but now, I see at least eight to
Explain pros and cons to them: Doctors
While many doctors warn most teenagers, especially school students, that they are not ready to undergo such life altering procedures. If it is a young adult, the doctors feel that they are mature enough to take their own decisions. “It is our duty to warn them and tell them the pros and cons of these surgeries. We leave it to the individual if it is a young adult. If there are school students then definitely we leave it to the parents’ decision,” explains Dr Anand.
Dr Vijay Joseph, professor, Plastic Surgery, at St John's Hospital, says, “There are youngsters, especially boys, who come for treatments like gynecomastia (enlarged breasts in men) to us. That definitely needs a surgery, and even then, we do inform them about the pros and cons.”
It is a condition where there is an imbalance in hormones. All males produce some female hormones, and when there is an imbalance, it leads to gynecomastia, explains Dr Vijay. “This is developed at the age of 13 or 14, and can be painful and tender too. It also causes emotional distress. The boys may be afraid to take off their shirts due to shame or even fear that they are turning female. Then, they seek surgery,” says Dr Anand.
Most females come for enhancement of breasts or for getting their smiles fixed. “Many come to get their smiles fixed, and this number is increasing. They want to look like their favourite celebrity, says a renowned plastic surgeon in the city. “Now, facial surgeries have become popular,” he adds.
Counsellors warn teens
Psychologists confirm that ‘social media’ has played a big role in children as young as 13 seeking reconstructive and plastic surgery. Explaining one such case, Dr Pawana N, psychologist, says, “I have seen many cases where children as young as 13 want to get their smile corrected only because they want good selfies for their Instagram accounts.”
Most parents reportedly go to psychologists seeking counselling for their children for this. However, they also come across some genuine cases and those are referred to plastic surgeons, says Dr Ashwini Y, a counsellor at NIMHANS. “Once, a 13-year-old had gynecomastia issues, and he would be bullied. Girls would offer him a bra and pass rude comments. This made the boy’s self esteem drop, and he also had terrible pain. So in such cases, we refer them to surgeons,” she says.