Many of you have sent in a news story concerning a 13-year-old in New York who underwent a rhinoplasty to put an end to online taunts. It is a fascinating story, to be sure: a young adolescent simply couldn’t stop the bullying that was filling up her Facebook page, so her mother finally made an appointment with a local facial cosmetic surgeon. Reportedly the child was so grateful upon emerging from surgery that she “cried from happiness and said [her new nose] looked ‘so pretty’”.
To those who have asked me what I think about the ethics of performing elective plastic surgery on such a young patient, I say: it depends. Of course I don’t personally know the child or family in question, nor have I spoken directly with the surgeon who performed the “nose job” surgery. That said, as a father, my heart goes out reflexively to victims of cyberbullying to matter what age or gender, and this story certainly sounds extreme enough to warrant an extraordinary response.
It is worth noting as well that the girl in this news story had apparently broken her nose multiple times, so the surgery was also reconstructive in nature, rather than just cosmetic. Either way, rhinoplasty is widely considered safe enough that families can make such decisions without worrying about any lasting health consequences.
The only true question in every case of cosmetic surgery is what is appropriate for the patient and that patient’s family. In this case it sounds like this decision wasn’t taken lightly, and the procedure resulted in a tremendous sense of freedom and relief for everyone involved. I call that a job well done.