Bullying Linked to Increased Desire for Cosmetic Surgery in Teens

Thursday, April 27, 2017 | Research and Publications

Adolescents who are involved in bullying are more likely to want cosmetic surgery, according to a new study in the May issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®.

Specifically, 11.5 percent of bullying teens expressed an extreme desire to have cosmetic surgery, as well as 3.4 percent of bullies and 8.8 percent of teenagers who both bully and are bullied – compared with less than 1 percent of those who are unaffected by bullying, the study showed. 

Bullies may want cosmetic surgery because they need people to admire them, while the bullied are affected psychologically by bullying, have low self-esteem and desire to change their body, suggest researchers led by Dieter Wolke, PhD, and colleagues of University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom.

"The desire for cosmetic surgery in bullied adolescents is immediate and long-lasting,” they write. “Our results suggest that cosmetic surgeons should screen candidates for psychological vulnerability and history of bullying.”

 Almost 2,800 adolescents - aged 11 to 16 - in UK secondary schools were screened for their involvement in bullying, through self and peer assessment. A sample group of around 800 adolescents – including bullies, the bullied, those who both bully and are bullied, and those who are unaffected by bullying - was analyzed for emotional problems, levels of self-esteem and body-esteem, and the extent of their desire to have plastic surgery. Girls want cosmetic surgery more than boys, the study found. Of the sample group, 7.3 percent of girls had an extreme wish to have plastic surgery, compared with 2 percent of boys, the researchers report.




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