Monday, August 28, 2006

Breast practice?

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It seems that the Premier of New South Wales has been reading his Flea.

Hot on the heels of Dr. Flea's post Don't Go Changin' on cosmetic surgery in teens, Premier Morris Iemma and his government are considering legislation aimed at making it much harder for teenage girls to undergo cosmetic surgery.

New safeguards proposed include parental consent, a GP's referral and counselling for teenagers applicable to up to the age of 20.

This follows a reported increase in numbers of girls seeking procedures including breast implants, nose jobs and botox, something that The Australian Society for Plastic Surgeons refutes.

Doctor Norm Olbourne questions the accuracy of the Premier's statistics and says that while there may be a few more patients, appropriate safeguards are already in place with procedures only performed following parental consent and a cooling-off period. Dr. Olbourne is concerned that the introduction of legislation might preclude young people who really need cosmetic surgery to safeguard their own wellbeing.

It will be interesting to see how this develops. One potential danger of the legislation is that it may simply drive such surgery off-shore. Increasing numbers are now seeking cosmetic surgery in Thailand, the Phillippines and the Ukraine, among other countries, and often with catastrophic results. Primarily attractive for economic reasons, such avenues may provide an alternate avenue for the truly determined but at what cost?


NSW to move against teen breast implants
Risky scalpel tours
Some teens need plastic surgery


Alison said...

This is such a complex issue. I've actually just posted on a related issue: A Pinkinsh Slant on Teenage Girls.

There are girls with valid health reasons for undergoing surgery. But by and large, I'm against it.

Many people see it as a worthwhile step to improve self-esteem but I've yet to see any studies that confirm plastic surgery leads to a permanent boost to a person's self image.

Think of all that money instead,being used to go into programs that promote beauty via non surgical means. Groups where girls could really and truly get to engage in freedom of choice and self respect. Where beauty would be defined in terms of individual qualities, to be enhanced.Now that would have long lasting effects regarding
self-esteem : I'd be willing to lay money on it!

Our priorites are so wrong, and this issue highlights it.

Dr. A said...

Maybe something like that should be considered in this country. But, as many people have told me in the past, no one can change behavior through legislation. Especially, in this country, money is the driving force. If teens can pay for any kind of plastic surgery, someone can be found to do it.

On a lighter note, here is an article from those "evil" people in New Zealand who have no problem with Breast Practice.

healthpsych said...

Hi Alison,

I think that is one of the concerns from those opposed to the legislation, that teens who genuinely need cosmetic surgery will be denied it. There has to be some measure of flexibility built in surely.

But is legislation really the answer anyway? A way around can always be found - such as going off-shore.

I'm doubtful as to whether cosmetic surgery provides any lasting benefits in terms of self-esteem. Would one procedure suffice? There'll always be someone who looks better...where does it end?

I like the idea of the programs you suggest but in a society where immediate gratification is often the goal, it's easy to see why some go the surgical route.

Hey Dr. A.,

You're so right about money being the driving force. If this wasn't the case, legislation wouldn't be necessary. The cosmetic surgery bodies would self-regulate.

Of course, you were just reading for the article.

Trust those Kiwis. A titillating bunch *groan*

Sarebear said...

I had facial/jaw surgery in my senior year of high school.

My dad had to fight the insurance company, they kept saying it was cosmetic. It was that, TOO, but when you have a huge overbite (my ninth grade photo, my teeth made a shadow covering my lower lip and maybe more).

I'll have to post some before and after photos, sometime.

When I showed the photos of me from about kindergarten thru senior high, one a year, my ologist was surprised and said he hadn't realized my overbite/situation "deformity" was that severe.

Just one more thing to contribute to an already miserable childhood.

And the frontal pictures don't even show how bad it really was, esp since some of them, and the side one, was taken after years of braces.

anyway, on a scale of 1-10 of difficulty, my surgery was a 9. They were in there hours and hours longer. Broke both jaws, moved em around, and stuff. They almost put in a chin implant, and after the swelling went down, the doc wished he had.

When you move jaws around like that, it can result in a not so good profile even when they are moved to what is a healthy place for the mouth/face. And so the implant would have been covered by ins, I think, if he had deemed to put it in.

Anyhoo, I was in my first counseling ever at the time, but due to all sorts of tangled emotions regarding the surgery, and drastically changing my face, which really affects your self-image and identity, I stopped counseling. I was very confused (and only 18 . . . .)

Hrm, might make a good blog post, sometime.

Sorry to go on and on, but actually, changing one's face around really does have an impact on the self. It changed my voice a bit, too, as it also changed the nasal cavity, changed my nose a little bit, too . . . plus the 50 lbs weight loss from 6 weeks of a liquid diet and jaws wired shut for awhile.

healthpsych said...

Hi Sarebear,

That sounds extremely painful and must have been a very difficult time!

I think this is the concern with the legislation - that it might make it very difficult for people like yourself to get necessary surgery. I think it can be argued that your scenario is very different from someone wanting breast implants or another procedure simply out of wanting to improve appearance. Who draws the line between what's valid and what should really be subjected to stringent review?

Sarebear said...

My case was actually thought to be cosmetic, but there ARE health problems associated with such an out of whack jaw alignment (twas congenital).

And I wasn't what I would consider disfigured, but I was . . . very much not . . . well, I don't know how to put it. So actually there could be debate about the "necessity" of mine, although I don't think you or anyone here would doubt it, nor would I.

I did, though, feel HUGELY guilty about desiring the appearance improving aspects of the surgery; as though that made me "shallow".

It does get murky as to who would draw the line, and where . . . . and what about older teens who need, say, breast reduction surgery, too? I don't think those would be argued with. Definite consequences, both physical and psychological, to not addressing that matter for those teens. Then again, the second you say the word breast, some feel it's automatically cosmetic, or flippantly say (a man would, generally) large breasts? and that's a problem, how?

Anyway. Glad to see some light on the subject, I love your blog.

healthpsych said...

Thanks, Sarebear. My sister had a similar quandry - a misshapen nose. It made her life a misery for many years, although I think it was a much bigger issue for he than for anyone else.

Later, because of problems with the septum, she was able to get it fixed under the British NHS. The kind surgeon also 'trimmed' it for her while he was working. Such a kindness and it made a big difference to the way she felt about herself.

fjl said...

I want lots of it. Justified! I have worked all my life. :0)
Thanks for your kind comment today. I'm weary with them, truly, but I'll be just fine.

psychgrad said...

I think it's important to demonstrate good socializing values and to want our children to be happy for who they are - but look at their models. Plus, why are young girls more important that women of all ages who could benefit from raising their self-esteem by being happy for who they are?

Flea said...

Thanks for the link.

A bizarre twist to the "off-shore surgery" problem occurred here in my state.

A doctor from Brazil was arrested in the liposuction-related death of a 24 year-old Brazilian immigrant. The charges included practicing in the U.S. without a license, but I'm not sure if that charge still stands.