Cosmetic surgery for children becoming commonplace

“I’ll never forget how shocked I was when I discovered the age of a certain patient of mine. She was nine,” a plastic surgeon tells Shukan Shincho (Nov 20).

That was eight years ago. Since then, the weekly finds, cosmetic surgery for elementary school children has become commonplace. Sometimes the kids themselves don’t like their appearance. Sometimes it’s the parents who see room for improvement. We’re given no indication of how many patients are involved nationwide, but we are told what 90% of them are after: folded eyelids, to make their eyes look bigger and their faces more Western.

Cosmetic surgery is not by definition trivial. We’re told the story of one small girl with a large mole under her nose. Classmates teased her mercilessly about having snot on her face. Mother and daughter were at the clinic, both sobbing. It is good that procedures are available to remove the cause of such misery.

Ingrown eyelashes are another serious problem plastic surgeons see in young children. Exceptions duly allowed for, however, “the overwhelming majority,” Shukan Shincho hears from a surgeon, “are out to look like some celebrity or other. Sometimes they show up with a photograph cut out of a magazine. Sometimes it’s the mother who’s the enthusiastic one, and when I get the child alone she’ll burst into tears and say, ‘I don’t want folded eyelids; my mom made me come.”

Unfortunately, we’re not told what the surgeon does in such cases. Presumably he acts in the spirit of a law which, says Shukan Shincho, classifies forcing children into unwanted plastic surgery as a form of child abuse—an offense punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Most often, though, mother and child seem of one mind on the subject. “The ‘junior idol’ boom started in 1995,” the magazine hears from an “idol watcher.” “Since then, the competition among would-be child stars has grown intense, and plastic surgery among them is routine. Over the past few years, that has trickled down into the ranks of ordinary elementary school kids.”

“I got a phone call from the mother of a child whose eyelids I’d folded,” relates a surgeon. “‘What kind of monster face have you given her!’ she cries. ‘Listen,’ I tell her, ‘you can’t make a child look like [singer] Ayumi Hamasaki by tinkering with this or that part of her face!’ But the mother insisted on having the work redone for free, according to the terms of the guarantee. Over the next two years, I did it over and over, but it was no use—the girl simply did not turn into Hamasaki.”

Then there’s the case of the fourth-grade boy whose mother ordered the doctor to remove all body hair so that it wouldn’t grow back. Why? “He has such white skin—I’m going to make a unisex celebrity out of him,” the mother said. “The boy himself was determined to proceed, so we went ahead,” the doctor tells the magazine. “Then the boy went berserk: ‘It hurts! Stop!’ Two of the office staffers had to hold him down.”

We hear of one woman who, in tears, begged a surgeon to fold her daughter’s eyelids. For some reason, she didn’t want her husband to know that she’d had her own eyelids surgically folded as a child. If the daughter’s eyelids also displayed the fold, the husband would assume the trait was hereditary.

  • 0

    Weasel

    Cosmetic surgery for children becoming commonplace

    About 20 years late with this story.

  • 0

    Sebarashii

    “Then the boy went berserk: ‘It hurts! Stop!’ Two of the office staffers had to hold him down.”

    One would assume that this was the point where the ridiculous treatment had stopped. Poor boy.

  • 0

    Sammi33

    Not enough to sexualize them, you have to put them under the knife and make them "perfect" like your little idols too. Great way to teach children the importance of being beautiful on the inside, right? Especially little girls, setting them up for a life of expensive clothes and makeup that they think they need because their husbands will be too shallow to accept them as they are.

  • 0

    rurika

    I thought plastic surgeons had some code of conduct that prevented them from doing work on children unless it was to correct a deformity that seriously affected their quality of life.

  • 0

    onewrldoneppl

    ha ha ha ... plastic surgeons who do cosmetic surgeries don't have any code of ethics. only the ones who do reconstructive/corrective procedures exclusively are ethical. SoCal is littered with 13 - 15 year olds who've had breast augmentation surgeries. arnold!

  • 0

    MikeBarrymore

    This is horrid. how could parents do thsi to their children. It's abuse, notjing more, nothing less.

    When i read about the boy being held down, i cried, i feel so sad now after reading this.

  • 0

    cleo

    Surely there should be a law against this kind of nonsense? No cosmetic surgery on anyone until they're old enough to make the decision for themselves - in Japan that would be 20. Reconstructive surgery is a different matter (depending on the extent of the original disfigurement, I suppose) but deliberately cutting a child to try and make it look like an artificial pop idol is (should be) criminal.

  • 0

    BlackFlag

    these people shouldn't be parents

  • 0

    judochick

    omg i always thought that some kids in japanese dramas looked like they had some work done. i guess they did LOL

  • 0

    TokyoGas

    “He has such white skin—I’m going to make a unisex celebrity out of him,”

    O_o Some sad people...

    We hear of one woman who, in tears, begged a surgeon to fold her daughter’s eyelids. For some reason, she didn’t want her husband to know that she’d had her own eyelids surgically folded as a child. If the daughter’s eyelids also displayed the fold, the husband would assume the trait was hereditary.

    hahahaha. I have been saying this for years. People getting face work done and not letting their partner know. A kid is popped out with different eyes, nose or something and panic sets in.

  • 0

    chonglai

    When beauty is objectified, it can becomes a commodity. And when beauty is imposed on a kid by an adult, it is a breach of autonomy. But who am i, living and floating in a superficial world consumed and monopolized by the definition of beauty, by the ethnocentric west, the fashion supermodels or celebrities wannabes?

  • 0

    romulus3

    I wonder what thew suicide rate is amongst teens who have had this surgery and the "you must be Hamazaki" routine drummed into them daily.

  • 0

    eze666

    black flag has it down. and i presume he/she likes black flag, so further respect!

    but basically this depresses me, asian eyes are absolutely beautiful, the idea of trying to remove such a characteristic is incomprehensible to me

  • 0

    WilliB

    totally sick

  • 0

    mcheeky

    You guys realize this "story" is mostly make-believe? Right? This is like the National Enquirer on the web.

  • 0

    bdiego

    "For some reason, she didn’t want her husband to know that she’d had her own eyelids surgically folded as a child. If the daughter’s eyelids also displayed the fold, the husband would assume the trait was hereditary."

    As silly as it sounds, this problem is going to get real serious in the next couple of decades. I just imagine all handsome and beautiful couples in Korea with their ugly children asking "Was I adopted?" Whereas in Japan where there's a bigger taboo, you have wives scheming to hide their past.

    Then again, there have been couples married only to find out later the husband was wearing a toupee, etc..

  • 0

    usaexpat

    If there is a deformity or problem that makes the child's life more difficult I am all for plastic surgery. If it is merely to look like an idol that is hollow and sad.

  • 0

    Monikasingh

    hi there! m a patient who is suffering from bad accident.and my 70% face gone deformed and for live normal life like others.i need plastic surgery.so many surgery already have been done. but no good result i get.so i want to ask ppl out there. suggest me DR. who can make my life little common n normal.

  • 0

    airrunwesker

    +the Devil's Advocate... I understand what peer presure will drive someone to do. Kids live in a cruel, unforgiving world where everyone is expected to conform. I do not beleive all of them are trying to lool like "idols".\

  • 0

    magpie

    The reality is we live in a superficial world where things are measured and valued in a way that wopuld shock people with any commonsense.

    There should be some kind of law which regulates the use of plastic surgery for minors such that it is only performed on those that truly need it (to correct or repair any disformed feature or injury). Once you're over 18 sure, deceide what you want after you've had a proper time to think it through. As a minor what can you possibly want to change (unless it is disfigured of course) and what says you won't change your mind? As for parents who want to change their kids, what possibly gives you the right to change what is there and that isn't wrong, coz mate it originally came from you or your partner?

    Similarly doctors who perfiorm such surgey on minors at their or their parents fancy should be struck off any list of registered practitioners.

  • 0

    JOKERXJOKER

    mommy..mommy...can i had that big boobs like ms dolly....hahahaha..sick to the core..

  • 0

    gogogo

    People are weird

  • 0

    Cos

    Hamasaki ? Oh my ! I'd want to have surgery if I had the bad luck to look like her naturally. When the child will be adult, nobody will even remember that talento, but a young woman be left with that weird artificial face, and regrets of her natural looks.

    I really think there should be a minimum age of 16 for aesthetic operations, and all the cases of younger kids should be decided by a judge after consulting a panel psychologists and doctors. Surely, I don't want to let a child grow up with split lips or half his face red when there is a way to repare. But the shape of eyes ? It's silly.

  • 0

    yasukuni

    If this story is true, it's one of the most depressing things I've read in a long time. Yes, there should be a law against it. But in a perfect world, there would be a law against those kinds of parents having kids in the first place.
    You have to pity the kids who have parents like that.

  • 0

    spucky

    I do not really understand the Parents, but more problems for me are the Doc`s! They have to stop doing such things, they hurt Kids and the only Reason is Money!

  • 0

    realist

    Totally sick and depraved. Japanese society going down the plughole.

  • 0

    helloklitty

    If you had a choice of being very intelligent or very beautiful, which would you choose?

    I would choose being very beautiful, because you get more advantages in life. I know from experience.

  • 0

    kokuryu

    Wow, so young! Can kids go in and have surgery without parent's consent? Sort of sounded like that was possible based on how the article was written. I can see removing the mole and other correctional type issues, but what do they mean by "folded eyelids"? Seems like there should be a law banning cosmetic surgery for kids to make them look like an idol.

  • 0

    pathat

    When so many young girls want to look like Saaya Irie, when so many guys want to look at Saaya Irie, and adults around Saaya Irie make a lot of money off the way she looks following a boob job from age 14 or 15 to cater to her fans, then you've got a problem, Japan.

  • 0

    Spanishwoman

    I can't believe it. Unless if there were psichological problems, I would never change the appearance of my children. And of course, never to make them look like some celebrity. I am not at all a beauty, but I would be happy if my child somehow resembles me :)

  • 0

    ekaningtyas

    children are after all the easiest target for exploitation. it is sad to know that this is already happening. it is sad to know that there are still children who are not taught to respect and love their own self for who they are. it is sad if this is one of the reasons why the suicide rate in Japan is very high. aren't doctors sworn to help people? is technology that great that humans are actually being sacrificed? if so, then aren't we not moving forward but backwards to the time of the nuclear bombing of Japan? it is really sad.........

  • 0

    memyselfI

    If the child has a huge birthmark on his face or other facial deformity. I am for it.

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    Himajin

    If the daughter’s eyelids also displayed the fold, the husband would assume the trait was hereditary.

    How is she going to explain the daughter coming home with bruising around the eyes? How dumb, to think he wouldn't notice.

  • 0

    littleboy

    Man, society here is getting trashy. At Least it's not violent though. I suppose it's a trade off.

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    lindsay12345

    Plastic surgery proves it's blessings to many person, either for the older skin or at the younger age. But now it's of turn of teenagers to look beautiful and have excellent cut shape by making plastic surgery to his various parts of the body. Anyway thanks a million for your amazing article and i will waiting for some other article like this.

  • 0

    Carbon Hydroxide

    Sad. There should that protects children from being forced into cosmetic surgery against his/her will. They aren't the property of their parents like lindsay12345 imply.

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