Adolescents, who venture on plastic surgery, normally have different motivations and goals from these adults. Some of the reasons include having surgery to improve physical characteristics, which makes them feel flawed if not rectified. Secondly, adolescents may opt to have plastic surgery due to peer pressure (in case they want to look similar or to stand out from others). However, the issue of concern is the growing rate at which adolescents follow the path of adults.
The trend at which they have started going for plastic surgery for a non-medical purpose is rising at an alarming rate. Some of these procedures include breast augmentation, reduction, or even liposuction. For these reasons, even though teens may have convincing reasons to have plastics surgery, society, and especially physicians should consider the ethical principles regarding such operations.
Medical Ethics and Plastic Surgery
There are many issues to consider when addressing the rising need for teenagers who need plastics surgery. However, the most significant one is derived from a sense of conflict between the inner-self and the society in relation to beauty. Mostly, this conflict is more common in women than men (Simis, et al. 669). An assumption about the way women perceive beauty can be traced from the early 1830s when the cult of domesticity and beauty index was first introduced. From that time, women, especially in their adolescent years, have always sought ways to make them feel secure about their looks through the use of cosmetic products.
For these reasons, the cosmetic industry has always benefited by influencing the conflict between an individual and her inner self even by using unethical means through the mass media and another form of communication (Simis, et al. 670). This factor pushes women to make some unprecedented decisions in modifying their looks due to the perpetuating beliefs in the ideal form of beauty (McGrath et al, 106).
There is no doubt that reconstructive surgery can benefit the youth, but the increasing number of cosmetic surgical operations has raised an ethical question as to when or under what circumstances the practice is appropriate for teenagers. Most of the reasons as to why teenagers need plastic surgery are to fit in with peers, look similar, or to stand out from the rest. For example, Zuckerman points out that, in 2010, more than 200, 000 cosmetic procedures were conducted in the USA, and 50% of them were on teenagers. Additionally, 75% of the procedures conducted on teenagers involved nose reshaping, liposuction, breast augmentation, and tummy tucks.
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The Ethical Dilemma
The ethical dilemma revolves around the teenage development stage as by performing the surgery, the body may face various complications in the future (Sarwer et al. 164). For instance, the human development and growth chart indicates that the average weight of a woman is likely to change between the ages of 18 and 22; this may decrease a woman’s desire for breast augmentation or liposuction (Sarwer et al. 167). A closer look at the factors that influence teenage desire for plastic surgery is unethical while, on the other hand, such decisions are made by physicians, who perform plastic surgery and thus face an ethical dilemma (McGrath et al, 107).
Most individuals in favor of teenage plastic surgery indicate that the decision should be left to the patient (Zuckerman). Additionally, they argue that it is the patient’s choice; therefore, the right of an informed decision should be respected as long as a patient has been provided with the right information. The proponents continue and say that such information should include the risk of the operation together with alternative opportunities (Zuckerman). Even though the above argument may seem resounding, to a large extent, it does not consider the ethical dynamics involved.
It is important to note that optional aesthetic procedures, which may have adverse effects on the normal functioning of the body, involve clinical considerations. In such a case, the right to autonomy given to the patient may contradict the principle of non-maleficence, which needs consideration from the side of the physician (Simis et al. 678). For these reasons, the physician or surgeon involved in such an operation must make sure that a patient’s expectation is realistic. For instance, before making a decision, the developmental stage, either physical or emotional, and the expectation of each adolescent must be evaluated (McGrath, et al. 107).
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Aesthetic Surgery for a Non-Medical Purpose
From my ethical viewpoint, aesthetic surgery for a non-medical purpose benefits from the idea that serves vanity, personal success, and youthfulness, and which is losing realistic values. The real value of a human being cannot be explained or described through physical appearance or even medical art. For these reasons, teenagers should feel obliged to resists such ideologies and strive to help their peers feel comfortable about themselves.
On the other hand, plastic surgeons should be bound by their ethical code and resist performing such practices to teenagers since it may affect their development both physically and emotionally. Therefore, even though teens may have convincing reasons to have plastics surgery, society, and especially physicians should consider the ethical grounds for such operations.