Dubai: More teenagers in the UAE are knocking on the doors of cosmetic surgery clinics, thanks to their increasing anxiety to look perfect, according to an expert.
“Many of them (male and female) are over the age of 16, but I’ve had parents who made enquiries on behalf of their children aged under 10 years old, for surgeries such as ear reshaping (otoplasty) or lesion removals,” said Dr Rezai.
The most common cosmetic surgical procedures requested by under 18 year olds at his clinic include ear reshaping surgery, nose reshaping (rhinoplasty), breast reduction (reduction mammoplasty) and correction of breast asymmetry in young girls. Among young males, chest reduction surgery with excessive breast development or gynaecomastia is the most popular.
Lack of regulation
With the lack of specific rules or laws that prevent adolescents from undergoing cosmetic surgery, teens over the age of 18, who are opting for cosmetic procedures, are not breaking any laws. Parental or guardian consent is only required for patients under the age of 18.
“In my opinion, it is unethical and irresponsible of a plastic surgeon to perform cosmetic procedures on young patients without the presence of compelling medical indications, as they may have not yet reached their physical and emotional maturity and may not know their expectations and reasons for surgery,” said Dr Rezai.
“In my practice, I encourage my young adult patients to wait until the age of 20 or 21, before undergoing surgery. But I’ve had patients as young as seven or eight years old undergo otoplasty to correct protruding ears which has been a necessity in their case to prevent them from being bullied at school,” explained Dr Rezai.
He pointed out that in today’s society, many young girls experience bullying, low self-esteem and social issues because of their appearance. Many may feel that they are “below the norm of beauty set by social media and society, (so) they see no other alternative than to change their appearance with something as drastic as cosmetic surgery,” said Dr Rezai.
Suitability and necessity
When it comes to cosmetic surgery, it is important to correctly determine the suitability and necessity of a procedure when dealing with all patients, especially young adults.
“It is necessary to have a thorough consultation with the young patient accompanied by a parent or a guardian, explore the patient’s external reasons — such as a perceived need to please others — and internal reasons — such as strong feelings about appearance — as well as assess her expectations of the requested procedure to ensure they are realistic,” said Dr Rezai.
He pointed out that in a perfect world, it is bullying that has to be addressed and corrected, not the physical features of the individual who is being bullied.
“But we — and our children — live in the world we have,” he added.