Assessing the Psychological Aspect of Performing Plastic Surgery on Children
Children are basically beautiful creatures. They are warm and honest and pure and delightful. A parent can find themselves in extreme distress when considering whether cosmetic surgery is an appropriate method of care for their child.
Cosmetic surgery is associated with vanity and society’s obsession with youth and beauty and weight. Cosmetic surgery isn’t typically given its due consideration for fixing disfigurements and malformations. When a parent discusses the prospect of cosmetic surgery, they are often regarded as vain and indignant individuals subjecting their child to a painful procedure for their own pursuit of perfection.
This is not necessarily the case. While there are parents out there who will put their children under the knife to give their child a better nose or perfect their features, most parents only consider cosmetic surgery for children under extreme circumstances.
Sometimes the psychological aspects of not undergoing a corrective procedure can be harmful to the child’s self esteem. Conditions such as cleft palate or infant skull reconstruction are conditions that will most likely inhibit the child for the rest of their lives. However there are conditions that are marginally obtrusive and the child may or may not benefit from cosmetic surgery for children. Otoplasty, also known as ear pinning, may or not be a quality decision regarding a child’s well being .
Some people consider children with large ears that protrude out from the head to be particularly cute. Other children, however consider these children to be “Dumbo” or “Mickey Mouse. ” A child with protruding ears are good candidates for cosmetic surgery for children, but one has to consider the consequences of under going the treatment as well as refusing to undergo the treatment.
Otoplasty is a procedure which basically pins the ears back closer to the head. Under a local anesthesia with some sedation, an incision is made along the back of the ear near the base where it meets the head. The cartilage is then folded over to shorten the distance between then end of the ear and the head, and then sewn together permanently and dressed to protect against infection. The entire process takes about two or three hours and healing time is relatively mild in comparison to other procedures.
When healing occurs, the ears will be permanently closer to the head and they will lose their “sticking out” appearance. Otoplasty can not be done until around the age of five or six which is when the ear reaches full size. A child undergoing otoplasty at that age will have enough understanding that explanative information will need to be given to keep the child comfortable and understanding what is happening. While some children desperately want their ears to look like everyone else’s the thought of someone “cutting their ears off” can be traumatic.
Deciding What is Best for Your Child
Deciding to go through with a procedure like an otoplasty can have long term effects, both positive and negative, for your child. The age of the child creates a significant factor. At two or three years old the child could be told that they were going to get their ears “fixed” and there wouldn’t be quite the same complications or implications as there are on an older child. At six years old, telling a child they are getting their ears “fixed” implies that there is something wrong with them.
Are you saving them from a lifetime of humiliation and ridicule or are you sending the message that if there’s something different about you that you shouldn’t accept it and you should fix it, even if it requires money and pain? Sometimes that answer can only be determined by the child themselves and how they feel about their ears. Sometimes that answer lies within how a parent chooses to explain the situation and how they are going to go about resolving it.
Often enlisting the help of a psychiatric specialist or two can assist a parent in determining what is really in the child’s best interest, but that is impossible to do without the child’s input. A child who is already the brunt of jokes may outwardly detest their ears because everyone else does. They were taught to hate them. Unfortunately because children have a habit of being devoid of rational thinking on occasion, “fixing” the ears may not change how they feel about them. They were already taught to hate them.
A young child may have a difficult time adjusting to their new look. Without logical thinking, they may not realize that changing an outside body part does not change who you are on the inside. They may not “see” themselves any longer and they may find that quite traumatic and disruptive to development. Other children may simply respond to everyone else’s response and love their new ears and still feel exactly like themselves. Their reaction is dependent upon their personality and the adults in their life.
Plastic surgery for children without severe oddities that cause ridicule or actual disfigurements are not considered good candidates for cosmetic surgery. Children who undergo cosmetic surgery for issues like having their father’s nose which displeases a divorced mother tend to suffer deep emotional trauma and self esteem issues. Cosmetic surgery for children should only be considered with the child’s consent.
Cosmetic Surgery for Older Children
There are some adolescents who feel that cosmetic surgery is something they could benefit from. This can be a difficult decision for parents. Teenagers tend to change so quickly and over time their self image may actually improve. However, turning to cosmetic surgery in order to create the illusion of perfection in their lives by attempting to attain perfection in their body is dangerous, and most surgeons will not consider a cosmetic procedure on a teenager who is not socially and emotionally well adjusted. In fact all adolescents can expect to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine the child has an appropriate state of mind.
Again a parent of a teenager wanting to have cosmetic surgery will have to struggle with the lesson they may teach their child. There is value in learning to love oneself exactly as is. Yet if a surgical procedure can alleviate a source a great anxiety and enhance the self esteem is that really a bad thing?
Cosmetic Surgery on Athletes
It has become acceptable these days to perform cosmetic surgery on athletes, particularly those whose body shape detracts from the desired norm. Figure skater, gymnasts, dancers, and performers have undergone cosmetic surgery prior to the age of eighteen, mostly to remove any signs of natural development such as breasts. In these sports, breasts are considered a detraction and many parents are having their daughters’ breasts basically removed.
There are several child advocacy groups that have tried to remove children from their parents’ care for undergoing this procedure, although none of them have been successful. It is not yet known what the effects of this process will likely cause, but professional speculation states that the results will not be positive. Many teens give up the majority of their normal adolescent experience for their sport. Some may consider just another run of the mill sacrifice.
Children with significant disfigurements are naturally saved from a lifetime of poor self esteem and ridicule when they undergo cosmetic surgery for children. Those with mild disfigurements have been shown to do well after the procedure has been completed and an appropriate adjustment period has passed. Children tend to be resilient beings and can typically bounce back from the changes of cosmetic surgery, but great care should be taken in the entire process to alleviate fear and teach valuable lessons along the way.
While we don’t want to teach our children it is necessary to change in order to fit in, it can be beneficial to protect them if possible. Every parent wants their child to have as close to a normal life as possible. Naturally this decision can cause great anguish to a parent. Even after consulting numerous psychologists and doctors there can be doubt and hesitation in knowing what is right for any particular child. The best way to begin to understand what is right is to be as educated as possible about cosmetic surgery and all it has to offer and all of its drawbacks.
The more a person understands the cosmetic surgery industry the more they can understand what to expect and what expectations are just too high. Finding adequate resources on the internet can be a challenge all it own, and finding a resource that is not interested in anything other than educating the public and offering a realistic forum for such issues.
If you are interested in finding out more information on this or any other form of plastic surgery, take a moment and stop by lifeplasticsurgery to find unbiased reporting and fair representation of the facts and procedures. This is not a decision to make alone, and having a community of people looking for their own right answers can make a huge impact.
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