Should You Ever Tell Your Kids You Had Plastic Surgery?

Lisa Moore

Guide to help you decide whether to tell your plastic surgery to your kid or not

The plastic surgery market increases every year as it becomes more popular and as more surgical and non-surgical procedures are innovated. The American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) reports that "53 percent of women and 49 percent of men say they approve of cosmetic surgery" and would not hide it from family and friends.

According to the ASAPS, Generation X adults, or those between the ages of 31 and 45, accounted for 43 percent of all cosmetic procedures in 2010. Many in this age group view cosmetic treatments as routine physical maintenance - It's like eating healthy, working out, taking vitamins, and coloring gray hair.

Generation X adults are also most likely to have children at home. So, when it's time for a tummy-tuck to restore the abdomen to its pre-childbirth condition, the question of what to tell the kids becomes relevant. Parents can tell all or maybe tell nothing, lie, ignore the whole thing or just be honest about their procedure. Explanations as to why mommy's tummy is all bandaged up are also influenced by the age of the child.

Some parents worry that telling children about cosmetic procedures will make kids want them, too. This is a valid concern. According to the ASAPS, the number of kids between 13 and 19 who underwent cosmetic surgery rose by 548 percent between 1996 and 2010. The most common procedures were rhinoplasty (nose job) and octoplasty (ear-pinning). Next came breast enlargement and liposuction.

Kids' cosmetic procedures to correct a too-big nose or ears that stick out might be compared to getting braces for buck teeth. As many as 90,000 kids' plastic surgeries are to avoid bullying by other kids. But when teenagers get breast augmentation and liposuction, a line is crossed between correcting a problem and trying to redesign nature. Read the article “Cosmetic Surgery and Your Teen” for more information.

Gen X parents tend to see surgeries like teen rhinoplasty for an overly large nose almost like surgery to correct a cleft lip. It's a corrective procedure, something you want to do for your child. Mom's tummy-tuck can also be a corrective procedure, so why not just be honest? It's like telling the kids you're on a diet to lose the 20 pounds you've carried around since your last pregnancy.

Whether to tell or not becomes complicated when parents get cosmetic procedures for reasons besides maintaining a healthy, youthful look. Problems arise when a parent gets excessive cosmetic surgeries due to something called body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).

BDD is a psychological condition that causes someone to become obsessive over perceived imperfections in appearance. The American Psychological Association says that as many as 7 to 12 percent of plastic surgeries are performed on patients with BDD. University of Pennsylvania researcher Leanne Magee learned that "the more severe a person's BDD, the greater their desire for cosmetic surgery."

IF mom or dad are having excessive plastic surgeries, they're sending a negative message to their kids, whether they talk about it or not. Rather than seeing surgery as a way to maintain health or correct a problem, kids can see it as a quest for perfection.

Being honest with kids in this case can do more harm than good. When kids perceive that life is about being flawless, they're more likely to want procedures they really don't need. The question then becomes less about being honest with the kids and more about parents being honest with themselves and about their own motivations.

The information in this article should not be substituted for an expert advice. Consult your psychologist or physician to give you unbiased and professional view on this issue.

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