Teen Plastic Surgery on the Rise

Brad M. Griffin | Nov 10, 2011

The rate at which teenage bodies are getting altered by elective surgery is astounding.

This article notes, Between 1996 and 2010 the number of teenagers aged 13-19 having elective cosmetic surgery has increased by 548% from around 14,000 procedures to 76,841 last year, according to American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). The ASPS site cites the total number of cosmetic procedures on teens in 2010 at 219,000. Thats a lot.

Teasing, bullying, and low self-esteem are the primary culprits of elective augmentation of noses, ears, breasts, and acne scars. A couple of years ago we noted that the cosmetic surgery phenomenon raises questions about decision-making. The wisdom of placing a teenager in the role of deciding to alter their physical appearance via invasive surgery is questionable.

But another issue clearly at stake is the obsession with appearance that pushes kids to feel these kinds of changes are necessary in order to survive in their social context. An obsession shared byor at least approved bytheir parents who have to sign off on (and nearly always have to pay for) these procedures. At some point we have to ask, to what ends are we willing to go for the sake of bending to the narrow socially-acceptable boundaries of beauty? To what extent does surgery actually fix the roots of low self-image? And what are the implications of affirming for an adolescent that the only way they can acceptably continue living in community with others is if we correct a certain flaw or two?

Chances are this one is not as far from home as you might think.

Brad M. Griffin

Brad M. Griffin is the Senior Director of Content for the Fuller Youth Institute, where he develops research-based training for youth workers and parents. A speaker, writer, and volunteer youth pastor, Brad is the coauthor of over a dozen books, including 3 Big Questions That Change Every Teenager, Faith in an Anxious World, Growing Young, several Sticky Faith books, Every Parent’s Guide to Navigating Our Digital World, and Can I Ask That? Brad and his family live in Southern California, where he serves as Pastor of Youth and Family Ministries at Mountainside Communion.


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