Teens turn to plastic surgery to stop bullying - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Teens turn to plastic surgery to stop bullying

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More teens are undergoing the knife after being tormented about the way they look.

As the internet and social media have become so much a part of our everyday lives, the pressure is on for teens and young adults to look that certain way.

"They're critical of themselves, other peers are critical of them," said Plastic Surgeon Dr. Jennifer Walden.

She says that can lead to them wanting to take extreme measures to change themselves.

"There's been a 30 percent rise in teenage plastic surgery in the last decade," said Dr. Walden.

Dr. Walden says she performs a cosmetic procedure on a teen at least once a month. She'll soon operate on 15-year-old Brianna Cruz.

"I don't like the bump and I don't like the way it goes out when I smile and it droops," said Cruz.

Throughout elementary and middle school, Cruz says she was bullied about her nose.

"Other people made fun of me. I didn't really know until they pointed it out," said Cruz. "They would ask me how I broke my nose or if I was born with my nose this way."

When she looks in the mirror that's the first thing she sees. After years of being tormented, Cruz has decided she wants plastic surgery.

"That's what made me want to fix my nose because I remember wanting to fix my nose in middle school and I started looking into it," she said.

While her mom has reservations about the surgery she agreed to it after learning what her daughter had gone through.

"When she did approach me and tell me it had become an issue, maybe at school or with her peers, I began to take is serious as well," said Saprina Robledo, Cruz's mom.

With any procedure on a minor, parents should be involved every step of the way and have to give informed consent, and parents should consult with a plastic surgeon that is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Major factors that have to be considered with any surgery are cost and recovery time. A nose reshaping can cost up to $8,000 and take several weeks to heal.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there were more than 76,000 cosmetic surgical procedures performed on teens in 2011.

Nearly half were nose reshapings. The other most common procedures were breast augmentation, ear surgery and male breast reduction.

But, no matter what the procedure is, Child Psychologist Dr. Allison chase questions if teens should be going under the knife.

"This idea of plastic surgery for teens, it concerns me, because teens are still growing and changing constantly and to make such a drastic change like that feels unhealthy and inappropriate," said Dr. Chase.

She doesn't believe the physical pain of surgery will truly put an end to the mental pain brought on by bullying. That's where GEN Austin comes in. The girls empowerment network is an after school program for middle school girls.

"We see thousands of girls every year who are working on issues around bullying and body issues in particular," said Executive Director of GEN Austin, Julia Cuba.

Cuba understands the pressures that teens face, but works to help them deal with those pressures in the best way possible.

"Plastic surgery is an extreme measure to end bullying. We at GEN Austin want to offer an alternative to that so girls can find something about themselves they love," Cuba said.

Cruz says there is a lot she does love about herself and the change she wants to make is a minor one.

"It's just my nose that's being fixed and not my personality or anything," she said.

But she believes the surgery will help her self-esteem, and put an end to the bullying for good.

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