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Push to Ban Young People from Cosmetic Procedures

A leading bioethics council has published a recommendation that young people in the UK should be banned from receiving cosmetic procedures. With increasing social pressure to ‘look good’, youths are becoming more susceptible to a bombardment of media and popular culture that focus on body image, and are likely to turn to invasive surgery to change their appearance. As a result, aesthetic treatments for young adults are becoming more and more popular.

In its report on the ethical issues of cosmetic procedures, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics voiced its fears about the practice and promotion of invasive cosmetic procedures in the UK. The Council is concerned that under 18s – whose unrealistic expectations about body image are exacerbated by apps that present cosmetic surgery as a game – feel the need to conform to appearance ‘ideals’, after a recent survey by the National Citizen Service found that nearly a third of teens care more about their appearance than their physical health.

Surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures are increasingly big business and widely accessible. They include botox, dermal fillers, implants, skin lightening, fat freezing and ‘vampire’ treatments, which involve injecting elements of the patient’s blood into their face and breasts. These treatments represent an easy way for impressionable youths to attain their perfect looks.

The Council recommends a ban on offering ‘walk in’ cosmetic procedures to young people. Jeanette Edwards, Professor of Social Anthropology from the University of Manchester, who chaired the Council’s inquiry, said, “There are legal age limits for tattoos and sunbeds. Invasive cosmetic procedures should be regulated in a similar way. Children should not be able to walk off the street and have an invasive cosmetic procedure.

“We’ve been shocked by some of the evidence we’ve seen, including make-over apps and cosmetic surgery ‘games’ that target girls as young as nine. There is a daily bombardment from advertising and through social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat that relentlessly promote unrealistic and often discriminatory messages on how people, especially girls and women, ‘should’ look.”

The Council’s report called for independent research into the ways in which social media contributes to appearance anxiety. It also recommended a complete ban on providing invasive cosmetic procedures to people under 18 unless a team of health professionals are involved.


Source: PRIME Journal
Press release: June 22, 2017. Nuffield Council on Bioethics, PRIME JOURNAL, Cosmetic Medicine.

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