Since she started public school at age 7, Nadia Ilse had been ridiculed and teased daily about her large, protruding ears. She was tormented by her classmates so often, and so viciously, that Nadia had lost all self-confidence. She couldn’t even look at herself in the mirror. Nadia would fake an illness or migraine whenever she could, just to stay home, and as she got older, Nadia began to skip class without her mother knowing – anything to avoid the harassment. Finally, the 14 year old Nadia broke down and told her mother, Lynda, everything. Shocked, pained, and determined to help, Lynda, sought immediate help; not from the principal, or a counselor, but from a plastic surgeon. Dr. Thomas Romo heard Nadia’s story and was deeply moved, so he offered to perform $40,000 worth of cosmetic surgery, pinning back her ears, sculpting her nose, and shaping her chin – just to stop the bullying. This was early 2012; this August, Nadia had her first day of high school, and for the first time in seven years, she felt pretty, confident, and no longer afraid to walk past a mirror.
So what would you have done, if Nadia was your child? RealSelf recently did a parent survey, asking “Would you give your child plastic surgery to prevent bullying?” The responses were very interesting – 68% of the parents polled said yes, they would opt for cosmetic surgery, if it kept their child from being the target of harassment. For teens, nose jobs and ear-pinning would be most highly considered. This poll backs up the numbers from the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS), who report over 132,000 plastic surgery procedures were performed on teens, age 13-19, in 2011. It is not clear how many of these surgeries were to prevent bullying.
If you have a teen who is suffering because of a cosmetic or aesthetic issue, taking the time to consult with a cosmetic surgeon can be provide peace of mind. Dr. Paul Vitenas is happy to sit down with you and your teen, to discuss what kind surgical options may or may not be available. Even if cosmetic surgery is not the right choice at the moment, building a support system is vital. October is bullying prevention and awareness month. Learn to recognize the signs, and how to step-up when someone you love is being harassed.