Last class we discussed the ethics within the plastic surgery industry. It is undoubtedly difficult to create a code of ethics within such an industry that everything is based on a case-to-case basis; no two cases are necessarily the same. With this, I mean each patient has a different case, a different reason to be operated on. I find that the most ethically ambiguous problem in plastic surgery regards age and the question if under aged patients should be operated on for cosmetic reasons.
In class, we watched the video about an eighteen-year-old girl who was given a breast augmentation as a graduation present. The girl said that she struggled with self-image issues throughout her adolescence, but what teen doesn’t? As a girl not so gifted in the chest region, I can say that I’ve struggled with my body, wishing I had bigger breasts. Even though I’ve stopped growing vertically, and most likely wont miraculously wake up one day with a full C, my body is still changing. Breasts often grow with birth control, and more commonly with pregnancy. My grandmother went from an A cup to a C cup after having ten kids… Although the girl in the film may have thought she was done growing, because she was eighteen, hormonal changes with pregnancy and environmental factors can increase breast size much later in life. With this in mind, I believe young, under age, patients should not be considered eligible to elective surgeries. But then again, there are cases that make me think otherwise.
Cleft palate is a congenital condition in which the two sides of the palate didn’t fuse during gestation. The treatment for cleft palate is plastic surgery to close to gap. The surgery is not always necessary, because it is possible to live a normal life with a cleft palate, but in some cases, other health issues arise from this genetic mutation. It is common for breathing and speech to be affected, therefore making the surgery necessary for medical reasons. In these circumstances, I believe plastic surgery should be available to all patients, no matter how young.
Now it seems somewhat simple, teens or young people with medical reasons should receive cosmetic surgery, while those who just want it should not. But why deny an insecure teen girl a chance to feel good about herself? I admire those who have committed there lives to debating medical ethics, because I personally cannot decide who should be operated on and who should not be.