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Plastic Surgery Trend Among Adolescents


The era of social media and other digital communications has influenced people’s standards of beauty and self-perception significantly. A generation of young people that identify selfies with a mandatory aspect of life observe one another on Facebook and Instagram and form specific preferences regarding appearance parameters. Even though a change in beauty standards over the past few decades is a natural social phenomenon, some related issues are highly relevant in the context of human psychology. In particular, today, the role of plastic surgery is much higher than before, and the use of modern capabilities of this medical field is a common trend. However, due to the expansion of access to the services of plastic surgeons, some ethical aspects have appeared, in particular, the trend of the correction of appearance among adolescents. This proposal considers the risks of excessive engagement in plastic surgery among teenagers, the factors that motivate this social group to change their appearance, and potential health risks. Transformed beauty standards and the availability of appropriate procedures have become the main reasons for the spread of plastic surgery among adolescents and the emergence of pressing ethical issues.

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Issue Background and Problem Identification

Determining the background of the problem, in particular, the factors that prompt teenagers to seek the services of practical surgeons is a significant aspect of the study. One of the main reasons is an increase in self-esteem by satisfying individual preferences in beauty and following common standards. The accessibility of social media determines the principles of evaluating appearance features, and a visual image is an essential indicator that affects adolescents’ perception of one another. In addition, celebrity accounts filled with photo shoots and professional filming serve as an additional incentive to change the appearance and match the images of idols. Teenagers are not ready to lag behind adults and see plastic surgery as a real and relatively affordable tool for adjusting individual elements of a figure and face. Therefore, media resources can be considered drivers that affect the specific preferences of adolescents regarding beauty standards.

Another aspect is the high psychological susceptibility of adolescents to any criticism. An emotional background in this age period is unstable, and any condemnation may have critical consequences for their self-esteem. At the same time, teenagers do not realize that plastic surgery is not a universal way to get rid of complexes and prejudices. They do not consider health risks and other undesirable consequences, for instance, the mismatch of outcomes with anticipated results, which is an omission. In addition, there is no guarantee that minor changes in appearance will be sufficient since addiction to plastic surgery is common and is often seen as a real psychological problem. Thus, the emotional aspect is a significant factor that induces adolescents to change their appearance through surgical interventions.

Along with ethical and cultural aspects, health issues are crucial to consider to assess the potential threats and risks of plastic surgery at an early age. As practice shows, the results of surgical interventions can have dangerous effects on the health of people in adulthood since, as they grow older, transformations can aggravate the natural processes of life. The inconsistency of the final results of the changes with anticipated ones can traumatize the psyche of adolescents, and mental disorders may occur due to irreversible consequences for their appearance. Many teenagers do not have high decision-making skills, which is an additional factor explaining the threat of plastic surgery at this age. However, stereotypes and social prejudices prompt adolescents to change individual parts of the body. Previously, this movement was widespread in Asian countries, for instance, in South Korea and China, but today, American youth adopts such a trend. Accordingly, health risks, ethical aspects, and psychological threats are grounds against plastic surgery in adolescents without good reason.

Research Question

The planned study aims to determine the causes and prevalence of plastic surgery as a trend among modern adolescents and find out its dangerous implications on the mental and physical health of this population. In this regard, the research question should be based not only on the premises of the issue but also on its potential outcomes and impacts on the target audience. In addition, one needs to take into account the specificity of adolescents’ thinking and their behavioral characteristics to conduct the necessary analysis and provide objective results. The work involves evaluating only those cases where the initiative for the voluntary transformation of a body or face is based on individual motives rather than medical prescriptions. Cosmetic procedures designed to correct congenital or acquired defects and approved by healthcare personnel are not a variable to consider. The key emphasis is on those adolescents who decide to change their appearance under the influence of the common social trend. Thus, the research question is as follows: how dangerous are transformed beauty standards for adolescents in the context of the trend for plastic surgery and its impact on physical and mental health?


As a theoretical background for research, relevant academic resources will be engaged along with publications presented to a wide range of readers. Articles from magazines contain critical assessments and real and controversial cases that deserve attention and may be used as a rationale for the problem justification. No primary sources will be used because this study is not aimed at a narrow audience and is offered to the general public as a rationale for the issue. Regarding the method of work, a mixed study is planned, which is a convenient mechanism for analyzing the proposed topic. Statistical correlations and digital data obtained during the data collection process are useful instruments to provide a basis for the problem and its implications. This principle corresponds to a quantitative methodology and is utilized to display specific outcomes. Qualitative data, in particular, authors’ reviews and the opinions of the affected population, can be applied as a background for assessing the issue from the standpoint of objectivity. Thus, a mixed type of analysis is optimal for this study and may help provide relevant information on the trend of adolescent plastic surgery.

About the sample for the study, those adolescents who underwent plastic surgery on a voluntary initiative are involved. Since interviews are excluded from the data collection process, the necessary information can be obtained from open sources, and the proposed bibliographic list contains relevant articles and publications on the subject. As an additional emphasis, the analysis of the trend of plastic surgery among adolescents of different nationalities will be considered, and this research variable will be taken into account. The attitude of the teenagers of the USA, South Korea, and China to the transformation of appearance will be reviewed, and the current statistics will be collected. In addition, the role of social media will be evaluated based on the available information on the role of specific digital resources as drivers that stimulate plastic surgery. As limitations, the factor of nationality will be mentioned, as well as the most relevant resources by the date of publication. However, these limitations contribute to obtaining more accurate data and analyzing the stated issue in detail. The results will be interpreted based on the proposed research question and specific data from open sources.

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The validity of the proposed method will be evaluated based on its relevance as an approach that allows presenting real and objective data about the issue under consideration. As for recommendations, changes in the control over the availability of plastic surgery will be offered. Different stakeholders, including both policy-makers and caregivers, should monitor teenagers’ requests for cosmetic services involving body and face transformations. In addition, parents should bear additional responsibility and take an active part in the lives of adolescents. Since bullying is considered one of the reasons why teenagers decide on surgical interventions, control over the content on social media should be strengthened, and stimulating the active pastime of adolescents is a valuable objective. These recommendations are of practical relevance to all interested parties and can become tools to limit teenagers’ free access to the services of practical surgeons, except for those cases that require medical interventions.

Works Cited

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Bermant, Michael A. “Ethics of Cosmetic Plastic Surgery in Adolescents.” Journal of Ethics | American Medical Association, 2005, Web.

“Bullying Linked to Increased Desire for Cosmetic Surgery in Teens.” American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 2017, Web.

Chan, Erin. “Botched Plastic Surgery to Enlarge Chinese Teen’s Eyes Leaves Her in Pain for a Year.South China Morning Post, 2018, Web.

Ching, Boby Ho-Hong, and Jason Teng Xu. “Understanding Cosmetic Surgery Consideration in Chinese Adolescent Girls: Contributions of Materialism and Sexual Objectification.” Body Image, vol. 28, 2019, pp. 6-15.

Choate, Laura. “Relentless Cultural Pressures for Today’s Girls.Psychology Today, 2015, Web.

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Del Rio, A., et al. “Cosmetic Surgery for Children and Adolescents. Deontological and Bioethical Remarks.” La Clinica Terapeutica, vol. 168, no. 6, 2017, pp. e415-e4120.

Derrick, Dustin, et al. “Teen Aesthetic Surgery May Eliminate Bullying.” Plastic and Aesthetic Research, vol. 4, no. 10, 2017, pp. 178-184.

Duffy, Maura. “Adolescents, Celebrity Worship, and Cosmetic Surgery.National Center for Health Research, Web.

Hilliard, Jena. “Plastic Surgery Addiction – Body Dysmorphic Disorder.” Edited by Theresa Parisi, Addiction Center, 2020, Web.

Khanna, Anisha, and Manoj Kumar Sharma. “Selfie Use: The Implications for Psychopathology Expression of Body Dysmorphic Disorder.” Industrial Psychiatry Journal, vol. 26, no. 1, 2017, pp. 106-109.

Kita, Natalie. “Patients Undergoing Plastic Surgery Should Research Their Options.” Verywell Health, 2020, Web.

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Lee, Kirsty, et al. “Adolescent Desire for Cosmetic Surgery: Associations with Bullying and Psychological Functioning.” Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, vol. 139, no. 5, 2017, pp. 1109-1118.

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Nesbitt, Amy, et al. “Barbie’s New Look: Exploring Cognitive Body Representation among Female Children and Adolescents.” PloS One, vol. 14, no. 6, 2019, p. e0218315.

Paul, Kari. “More than 200,000 Teens Had Plastic Surgery Last Year, and Social Media Had a Lot to Do with It.” Market Watch, 2018, Web.

“Plastic Surgery Statistics Report.” American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 2020. Web.

Reilly, Michael, and Keon Parsa. “Social Media and the Rising Trend of Cosmetic Surgery.” Psychology Today, 2019, Web.

Rohrich, Rod J., and Min-Jeong Cho. “When Is Teenage Plastic Surgery Versus Cosmetic Surgery Okay? Reality Versus Hype: A Systematic Review.” Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, vol. 142, no. 3, 2018, pp. 293e-302e.

Simis, Kuni J., et al. “After Plastic Surgery: Adolescent-Reported Appearance Ratings and Appearance-Related Burdens in Patient and General Population Groups.” Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, vol. 109, no. 1, 2002, pp. 9-17.

Singh, Kuldeep. “Cosmetic Surgery in Teenagers: To Do or Not to Do.” Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery, vol. 8, no. 1, 2015, pp. 57-59.

“Spike in Teenagers Opting for Cosmetic Surgeries. Reason? Bullying and Social Media Influence.” The New Indian Express, 2018, Web.

Vries, Dian A. De, et al. “The Effect of Social Network Site Use on Appearance Investment and Desire for Cosmetic Surgery Among Adolescent Boys and Girls.” Sex Roles, vol. 71, no. 9-10, 2014, pp. 283-295.

Yeslev, Max, et al. “Safety of Cosmetic Surgery in Adolescent Patients.” Aesthetic Surgery Journal, vol. 37, no. 9, 2017, pp. 1051-1059.

Yoon, Sanghoo, and Young A. Kim. “Cosmetic Surgery and Self-Esteem in South Korea: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.” Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, vol. 44, no. 1, 2020, pp. 229-238.

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