Cosmetic Surgery Patients Getting Younger

More and more teenagers are going under the knife because they fantasize about a career in showbusiness. Plastic surgery has already been widely popular as a kind of reward for some girls passing the college entrance exam, but now even junior high-schoolers have themselves nipped and tucked before they are fully grown.

Some teens who have their sights set on a showbiz career do not want any photos of their old faces in their school yearbooks, which is why they opt for cosmetic surgery at such a young age. Others demand it as a reward for improved grades, suggesting that plastic surgery is being seen as little more than a haircut or a new dress among some youngsters.

Plastic surgeons estimate junior high school students now account for an astonishing 20 to 30 percent of their patients.

But going under the knife too early can lead to complications, since the body is still growing until the age of 18 to 20. Doctors warn against breast augmentation and surgery to fix buck teeth after reaching adulthood. Surgery involving the cutting of bones could end up harming the growth of surrounding tissue. Psychiatrists also warn against cosmetic surgery among teens, since adolescents tend to be needlessly insecure about their appearances and may regret it later if they get plastic surgery on impulse.

There are also legal issues to be considered, because parental consent is necessary. Some teens lie about their age to go under the knife and some doctors operate without verifying the age of a patient. "There are no laws to punish a doctor for performing cosmetic surgery on a teen without his or her parents' consent," said Kim Sun-wook, a lawyer specializing in medical lawsuits. "But parents have the right to cancel surgery appointments and they can also get a refund if their child gets cosmetic surgery without notifying them."

englishnews@chosun.com / Jul. 21, 2012 08:26 KST