Special Report: Teens under the knife

By Christian Jennings - bio | email

ALBANY,  GA (WALB) -   13.1 Million people went under the knife for cosmetic procedures in 2010. That's up 5% from the previous year, and more than 200,000 of those operations were performed on teenagers.

Some do it to boost self esteem, some want more attention, others do it because their parents say it's OK.

Kaley Shanks is happy with what she sees when she looks in the mirror. "Before you walk out the door, you've gotta look good," she says.

"I'm a full C [cup] now," she said. But that hasn't always been the case. "I always said that if I didn't have boobs by the time I was 18, that I'd get them, and 3 months later I did.

And why not? She had her parent's support. "My dad was like, get them as big as you want.'"

She came up with the finances. "I actually borrowed it from somebody and paid them back within the next year."

And she didn't do it for a boyfriend or anyone else; she did it for herself. "I wouldn't care what people think anyway."

But many teens long for acceptance among their peers, experts say. And numbers speak volumes. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Nearly 210,000 cosmetic plastic surgery procedures were performed on people age 13 to 19 in 2009.

More than 8,000 of those were breast enlargements and 2,953 of them were on kids age 18 and younger.

"I don't think they judged me, to my face anyway," said Kaley.

Speaking of faces, nose Jobs are actually teen favorites. 35,000 U.S teenagers had their noses surgically reshaped in 2009, while male breast reductions, breast augmentations, and EAR surgeries were popular but comparatively fell far behind in demand.

"Sometimes folks have ears that stick out and even when you go swimming and all that you can't hide it with long hair," said Dr. Walter Erhardt Cosmetic, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon.

"The younger folks have a tendency to try and fit in so they try and do procedures that make them fit in a little better," he said.

Erhardt says teens contemplating a little NIP TUCK need a strong support system and the right motivation. Do it for YOU, he says.

"Not for a boyfriend, a spouse or anyone else or so you can get a job or a better job."And the obsession with looking "picture perfect" begins at a young age,

As we grow up, we develop new idols, celebrities, pick up any magazine you'll find flawless men and women, many of whom undergo drastic surgeries to make them as beautiful as possible.

"Magazines, movies, definitely put on the pressure to look good," Kaley said.

Either way, Kaley is pleased with her transformation. "I love them, I'd do it all over again, perfect size!"

A big step closer to perfection, in a world where perfect people are plastered on magazine covers everywhere,  sending more and more teens under the knife.

Most little girls, myself included, spent a lot of time playing with this popular woman as a child, Barbie, and look at her, perfect hair, perfect body, prefect clothes, prefect man.

Dr. Walter Erhardt, an Albany Plastic Surgeon and Former President of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons has performed countless surgeries on teenagers over the years.

Of course plastic surgery is not for everyone and isn't something to be taken lightly. Dr. Erhardt says anyone thinking of going under the knife, teenagers and adults alike, need to do plenty of research before making such an important decision.

  • Click HERE for a chart showing surgery statistics.
  • Click HERE for more information on cosmetic surgery.

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