Teen plastic surgery: ethical or not?

by axpan on April 2, 2015 - 7:10pm


Adolescence; a period of physiological and mental changes that the individual needs to deal with and accept. It often creates emotional instability and insecurity. These body changes can be uncomfortable especially when they are in a period where peer acceptance is important. Almost all adolescents go through school and it becomes one of the main agents of socialization. In fact, school is where most bullying happens. Teens can be cruel towards each other when it comes to physical appearance and with the omnipresence of the media pressure on normative standards of beauty, teens have grown increasingly preoccupied by their aesthetics. On surface, this issue seems superficial, but it can lead to severe health problems such as depression, self-harm and eating disorders. These are legitimate social issues that we need to focus on. Some of these teenagers will go towards plastic surgery to avoid bullying and increase self-confidence. The most common surgeries performed on teens are rhinoplasty, correction of the nose, otoplasty, for deformed ears, liposuction, fat reducing technique and breast augmentation. Two major actors enter the scene: surgeons and parents. Doctors are the ones who own the knowledge to assess what is beneficial for the patient and the parents have the responsibility of their children’s health. Since they are teenagers of often 14, 15 and older, parents need to consent to this medical procedure. The ethical issue here is rather to allow teen surgery or not to allow it and have a chance to have these emotionally vulnerable teens bullied. It is important to note that these teens are not fully physically developed and did not reach mental maturity yet. They might grow out of the deformity they have and surgeries require a lifetime care and they might not be responsible enough to follow the post-surgery care. Their decision-making skills are still developing, are young subjects mature enough to make decisions about a procedure that will permanently modify their body? Their social and reasoning skills are developing as well, they might end up accepting their bodies and adopting social strategies that will allow them to gain social acceptance through other assets rather than their physical appearance such as personality or humor. According to deontology, no surgery should be performed on underdeveloped teens for aesthetic reasons and we should embrace and accept the body that God gave us. On the other hand, teleology says that if the operation can save a suicidal teen struggling with body image, we should do it. As a valuable solution that satisfies the principle of utilitarianism, teens should be able to correct some deformities, but not those that they might outgrow off. For example, breast reduction should be allowed if back problems occur in patient and disturb her daily activities, but breast augmentation should not be allowed because depending on the individual, she might develop breasts later on. If the patient has deformed ears, they should be able to proceed to otoplasty, this deformity will probably remain permanent as the ears take form during childhood. On the other hand, rhinoplasties would not be recommended because the nose only stops changing in late adolescence. In conclusion, there should be more campaigns helping teenagers with self-esteem and set limitations about what types of surgeries are safer and better for teens. This increases social acceptance and lessens the negative effects of plastic surgeries on teens, which creates a maximum of happiness for the greatest number. 



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