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A third of youth here say plastic surgery OK

We've had such treatment, say 1% of 1,400 students aged 16 to 21 polled

Published on Aug 30, 2014 6:33 AM
 
-- ST PHOTO ILLUSTRATION

One in three youth here think it is perfectly all right to go for cosmetic procedures at their age - with 14 out of the 1,400 surveyed admitting that they have already undergone such treatment.

Cosmetic treatment purely to improve looks, and not for medical reasons, has become very popular in countries like the United States and South Korea, where aesthetic treatment is thriving.

A team of doctors and a dentist decided to find out if it was the same here and studied more than 1,400 responses from medical and junior college students aged 16 to 21.

The results were published in the Singapore Medical Journal.

Only 1 per cent said they have had cosmetic procedures done, mainly to the face, but the team implied that the figure could be higher, saying: "A major limitation of the present study is its dependence on honest responses."

Although more than a third approved of youth going for cosmetic treatments, almost two in three said they would be embarrassed if people who are not family or close friends found out that they had done so.

The team, headed by Dr Ng Jia Hui of Singapore General Hospital (SGH), was disturbed by the lack of knowledge of the dangers involved in cosmetic treatment.

Among JC students, 52 per cent were not aware of any risks while 36 per cent of medical students too thought cosmetic procedures were harmless.

So far, at least two people are known to have died here as a result of cosmetic treatment.

The team said: "It is even more alarming that a large number of JC students who claimed to be aware of the risks associated with cosmetic procedures listed three risks which were incorrect."

They said this was a matter of concern as self-perceived knowledge plays "a central role in influencing the choices of potential cosmetic patients".

Singapore Association of Plastic Surgeons president Karen Sng said plastic surgeons should discourage young patients, as every surgery carries risk.

"In general, I would not recommend cosmetic treatment for the young," she said.

But she added that it depends on the treatment they want, and their age. If it was a higher risk treatment such as liposuction, she would not consent. However, the most common treatment teens here seek is for double eyelids.

She said she would only agree if they are in their late teens and have the consent of a parent who is fully aware of the risks involved.

Ms Ann Tan (not her real name) had cosmetic procedures done earlier this year. The 19-year-old got Botox jabs on her jaw and also had chin fillers injected to make her face look longer.

Botox, one of the brands of botulinum toxin, relaxes muscles, while fillers, which are chemicals such as hyaluronic acid or collagen that naturally occur in the body, plump out the skin.

"I thought my face looked fat and round. I wanted a slimmer-looking face," said Ms Tan, whose procedures cost about $1,600.

The doctor at EHA Clinic, Dr Elias Tam, briefed her and her parents about the risks of the procedures, which include swelling and allergic reaction.

Her father also signed a consent form allowing her to undergo the procedures.

Dr Tam said: "We are very strict. We want to ensure patients and guardians know exactly what they are getting into."

Ms Tan was not particularly worried about the risks because she knew of friends who had undergone plastic surgery and had told her the procedures were safe.

She said: "A lot of people are doing cosmetic procedures these days, so I think it's okay."

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Background story

NOT FOR EVERYONE

In general, I would not recommend cosmetic treatment for the young.

- Singapore Association of Plastic Surgeons president Karen Sng, adding that it depends on the treatment they want, and their age

What do the young think?

  • Among JC students, 52 per cent were not aware of any risks
  • Among medical students, 36 per cent thought cosmetic procedures were harmless

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