It wasn’t a big gossip story here in the U.S., but there was quite the uproar overseas this spring when rumors ran amok about plastic surgery for a young South Korean singing group.
Girls’ Generation, also known as SNSD, rocketed to fame in Asia as teenagers in the ’00s. And while all nine women are now in their 20s, the possibility that various members had recently gone under the knife prompted outrage, mockery, and denunciations from some observers. Why would famous, attractive women in their youthful prime want plastic surgery? What message does that send to their young, female admirers?
The story was denied by band members, but fanned by media outlets posting as many “then and now” images, side by side, as they could find to illustrate their thesis. But true or not, it raised some legitimate questions — about Eastern and Western ideas of beauty, the pressure that pop culture exerts on women and girls to be “pretty,” and the ethics of plastic surgery for younger people.
The controversy may have focused on these nine entertainers because, as the band name suggests, they came to the public’s attention when they were teenagers. The image of them as “Girls” persists into adulthood. Be that as it may, they really are adults. It’s hardly uncommon for women in their 20s to seek plastic surgery and other cosmetic procedures.
And it’s less rare than you might think for parents to walk their teenagers and adolescents into plastic surgery offices. Nose jobs for adolescent daughters seem to be in particular demand.
Whether they ought to be is another question. Potential patients or their parents shouldn’t go into surgeon’s office expecting blanket approval.
There’s a case for considering cosmetic surgery in one’s 20s. A person may want to alter his or her appearance at a certain age to be the foundation of their looks going forward. Cosmetic surgery can play a role, although it shouldn’t ever be a substitute for healthy living and a positive outlook.
With teens and adolescents, the questions become more difficult — as they should — for the surgeon. If a young person is struggling with a visible traumatic injury or birth defect of the face or body, plastic surgery might help bolster self-image and self-esteem in his or her formative years. Or it could be a panacea.
If the desire for plastic surgery is simply a response to peer pressure, a surgeon is often more skeptical. There may be room for all parties to consider how severe that pressure is, and whether surgery is a proper response. But the maturity level of a teen — and, frankly, the maturity level of some parents — has to be accounted for, along with the physical changes that are already occurring naturally. Growing into adulthood could completely alter how a cosmetic procedure done one year looks the next.
There’s a saying in our field in cases involving young people that patients, not parents, matter most. So it’s for the patient and the surgeon to sit down and speak candidly about why a young person would feel the need to “improve” a youthful appearance that may not even be fully formed.
Plastic surgeons are not therapists, but they spend enough time with people to make reasoned, responsible judgments about someone’s physical and emotional readiness to undergo plastic surgery. Often, that means a surgeon saying no.
Dr. Paul Nassif, Asian Rhinoplasty Specialist, is a Beverly Hills facial plastic surgeon. Although the doctor has been featured as a celebrity favorite on various television programs, many of the patients he sees are everyday people seeking to improve their appearance. Dr. Nassif dedicates a portion of his practice to the medical art of Asian rhinoplasty. He also performs a number of facial cosmetic procedures at Spalding Drive Plastic Surgery in Beverly Hills, California.
To schedule a consultation with Dr. Nassif, call the office at (310) 275-2467, or the toll free line at (888) 385-0066. If you prefer, you can email the office through the contact form, where there is also space to provide comments.