According to Zuckerman (2013), about 236,000 cosmetic surgeries were done on patients between the ages of 13 and 19 years in the year 2012. Social values that have been greatly shaped by the media have led to teens getting cosmetic surgeries in order to fit into social circles of interaction. These values place great emphasis on appearance and deformities, with TV reality shows that show quick fixes leading to the establishment of unrealistic expectations of the power of cosmetic surgery (McCrary, 2008). Cosmetic surgery among teenagers has a number of ethical implications.
First, it distorts social values whereby surgeries that go wrong can cause persons to have low self-confidence. According to Bermant (2005), it might disrupt social acceptance resulting in difficulty with school, withdrawal or even aggression. Adolescents’ bodies are still maturing and so is their decision making abilities. This means that there are ethical implications for nursing practitioners. They have to confront the two categories of ethical issues that come with teenage cosmetic surgery; avoidance of coercion and the minor’s decisional capacity. The principle of beneficence is an ethical theory that can be applied in such a case. It states that medical practitioners should act in the best interests of the patient (Mousavi, 2010). As such, it is up to practitioners to consider the best interests of adolescents before undertaking plastic surgery on them.
Teenage plastic surgery has its impact on nursing practice. Nursing practitioners have to strike a balance between giving teens appropriate care while attending to their desires. One, practitioners have to ensure that the purpose for the surgery is realistic. This also means that they have to consider the competency of the patient in making the decision to undergo surgery. Two, practitioners have to evaluate the expectations of the teenage patient with respect to the degree of deformity (Bartlett & Belyea, 2007). Three, practitioners have to ensure that parents are informed on any decisions involving surgery to teenagers.
Bartlett, R. & Belyea, M. (2007) Problem Behaviors in Adolescents: Implications for Nursing Practice. Pediatric Nursing, 2007; 33(1): 13-18.
Bermant, M.A. (2005) Ethics of Cosmetic Plastic Surgery in Adolescents. Virtual Mentor, 2005; 7(3): 1-5.
McCrary, S.V. (2008) Ethical Issues Regarding Cosmetic Surgery for Minors. Retrieved on 27 Mar. 2014 from http://www.law.uh.edu/healthlaw/perspectives/Bioethics/981230Cosmetic.htm
Mousavi, S.R. (2010) The Ethics of Aesthetic Surgery. Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery, 2010; 3(1): 38-40.
Zuckerman, D. (2013) Teenagers and Cosmetic Surgery. Retrieved on 27 Mar. 2014 from http://www.ourbodiesourselves.org/book/companion.asp?id=1&compID=102