Under the knife after bullying - KMSP-TV

Under the knife after bullying

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Some parents are choosing to spend thousands of dollars and put their child through weeks of recovery, all in an effort to stop bullying.  

More teens are going under the knife after being tormented about the way they look.  As the internet and social media become a part of our everyday lives, doctors say teens and young adults are looking for a fix.

"They're critical of themselves, other peers are critical of them," said Dr. Jennifer Walden, a board certified plastic surgeon.  "There's been a 30 percent rise in teenage plastic surgery in the last decade."

Walden performs at least once a month.   Soon, she'll operate on Brianna Cruz.   Throughout elementary and middle school, Brianna said she was bullied about her nose.

"I don't like the bump, and I don't like the way it goes out when I smile and it droops," said Cruz, 15.  "Other people made fun of me.  I didn't really know until they pointed it out.  They would ask me how I broke my nose, or if I was born with my nose this way."

Her mother, Saprina Robledo, supports the operation.

"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," she said.

"Teens use plastic surgery to fit in where adults use plastic surgery to stand out," explained Dr. Daniel Diaco, a board certified plastic surgeon. "When you fix a child's defect, it's very rewarding. You see a change in that child's behavior, in their demeanor and their confidence; you can take a thorn out of a lion's paw by fixing a child's defect. That's very gratifying.  

Some factors parents consider often times are cost and recovery time.   A nose reshaping can cost $8,000 and takes several weeks to heal.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 76,000 cosmetic surgical procedures were performed on teens in 2011.  Nearly half were nose reshaping.  The other most common procedures include breast augmentation, ear surgery and male breast reduction.

Diaco said not everyone is a candidate to go under his knife.

"We are not to do breast augmentations on children younger than 18 years old.   I don't think breast augmentations are appropriate on 15 or 16 year olds unless there is an anatomical problem," according to Diaco.   "If a patient is a bad candidate for plastic surgery, I let them know that, and I warn them that if they get this procedure done, they'll probably be disappointed."

No matter the procedure, some child psychologists question if teens should be going under the knife.  Child psychologists and empowerment advocates say teen plastic surgery is concerning because young people are still growing and changing constantly.   They believe surgery is a drastic change that feels unhealthy and inappropriate.

Brianna said there is a lot she does love about herself and the change she wants to make is a minor one.  She believes the surgery will help her self-esteem and put an end to the bullying for good. 

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

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