What to do if your child wishes to have a cosmetic surgery? The German Foundation for Health Information (DSGI) recommends how parents react and what they should look for. Because often it is not a physical, but a mental problem. Dysmorphophobia or beauty hypochondria is the name for the pathological ugliness mania. Those who suffer from this phenomenon, which is still little known to us, concentrate their attention on supposed defects such as thick thighs or too small breasts. Defects that outsiders hardly or not at all recognize.
According to the German Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy (DGKJP) meets the disease especially young people between 14 and 20 years. Many sufferers see the solution to their problem in surgery.
High interest in cosmetic surgery among adolescents
According to surveys, plastic surgery in Germany is meeting with ever increasing interest. Especially among the Dsymorphophobie endangered 14 to 20-year-olds. Exact numbers regarding the actual interventions in adolescents do not exist. The statistics of leading professional associations on the proportion of under-20s go up to ten percent. However, experts advise against mental surgery in mental illness. "In cases of dysmorphophobia, after surgery, attention is often shifted to another part of the body or the results are not experienced as satisfactory", says Prof. Dr. med. Albert K. Hofmann, Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the DSGI.
Abnormalities such as self-imposed social isolation, listlessness, frequent viewing in the mirror or hiding one's own body in thick clothing can be symptoms. "In such a case, parents should seek intensive conversation with their children and consult a psychologist or psychotherapist, " Dr. Annette Kotzur, Specialist in Plastic Surgery and also a member of the DSGI Advisory Board.
Consider late effects
But it is not always dysmorphophobia when young people want to undergo plastic surgery. Triggers can also be actual flaws, such as protruding ears, as a result of which classmates taunt the child. Here, aesthetic plastic surgery can definitely help. In the case of adolescents under the age of 18, not without the consent of the parents. In a detailed consultation, the surgeon must first try to find out the causes of the operation. Parents should pay attention to it as well as a sound education about possible risks and long-term consequences of a plastic surgery. "Only dubious doctors try to force their patients to intervene, " warns Heiner Kirchkamp of the DSGI.
Especially since adolescents are subject to special risks during aesthetic procedures. Thus, scars created by surgery grow along with the changing body. It is also important to consider long-term aspects such as a later wish to have a baby, since, for example, breast surgery may influence the ability to breastfeed. "In general, surgeons and parents should draw attention to the fact that the youthful body is still changing anyway and possible problem areas disappear, " said Hofmann.