The latest questionable frontier in video games comes in the form of plastic surgery apps aimed at children with smart phones. The apps allow users to transform characters and/or pictures of friends via cosmetic improvements. The oft-mentioned body image issues provided by such seemingly innocent apps only continue the idea that plastic surgery is but a vain enterprise.
Board certified plastic surgeons of The Plastic Surgery Channel discuss the surgery apps and how, again, their specialty finds itself unfairly in the crosshairs of public opinion.
Body Image and Subconscious Awareness
Many would argue that “kids will be kids” and cosmetic surgery apps are just fun and games. This might be true for some, but the subconscious effects of growing up focused on appearance – and altering appearance – is potentially a very slippery slope.
“I mean this is so disturbing to me, both as a plastic surgeon and as a woman,” says board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Ashley Gordon of Austin. “What kind of issues are we giving these young girls about body image and what they should look like? These apps are the same as the Photoshop images that are in Hollywood now, but we’re starting when they’re 9 years old? With Kylie Jenner lips and you’re the plastic surgeon on the app? I don’t know, I liked it better when I was younger and I played Operation.”
The Photoshop point is of extreme importance considering it’s effect on the population at large. What many don’t realize about magazines and photo spreads in the 21st century is the depth to which they are altered. The vast majority of actors and actresses and models are heavily touched up – to the extent that their bodies are even altered digitally. When the final image is processed, it is a perfect version of an already well-endowed human.
Seeing these images day in and day out weighs heavily on some who judge their own looks by these altered images. It’s unfair to the adult mind, so how bad might it be for the young, developing mind?
“I agree with Ashley,” says board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Jason Pozner of Florida. “I think this is bad, bad messaging to younger kids. I mean we have enough trouble with the Millenials being lazy and stuff, now imagine what’s going to happen to this younger generation who wants lips out to here. Bad messaging. I’d rather them go play with their Ken and Barbie dolls rather than throw lips on their friends.”
In this instance, there’s little surgeons can do beyond speak out regarding their ethics and drive to perform well-done surgery safely and effectively.
“Dr. Gordon and Dr. Pozner said it all, what is it that we’re doing to this generation?” asks board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Dustin Reid. “I feel like it’s outside of our control here; it’s going to happen.”
Surgeons Can’t Control Apps, but they can the Message
While perhaps unintentional, the app creators have further opened the door to the idea that plastic and cosmetic surgery is somehow a bad thing. Board certified plastic surgeons spend much of their careers creating natural results that have the potential to change their patients lives, a story not often told in the mainstream media. Only the extreme and avant garde make it into headlines.
“It’s back on us again,” explains Pozner. “Board certified plastic surgeons with good ethics – we just keep it normal. The message is: don’t operate on their mothers and make them look crazy so their daughters can think these lips are normal.”
“Unfortunately we all get lumped together and ‘that’s what we do’,” says Reid. “And that’s why I think the Plastic Surgery Channel is so important about putting our message out there that that’s not what we do.”