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Can Plastic Surgery Help Stop Bullying?

5:56 PM, May 23, 2011   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) -- When bullying is directed toward physical appearances, such as ears that stick out or big noses, parents may consider plastic surgery for their children.  

But George Washington University Plastic Surgeon Dr. Michael Olding says, "The knife if not the answer" when it comes to bullying.

Thirteen-year-old Aubrey Woodward is considering plastic surgery to pull her ears back. Her ears and her 11-year-old sister's ears stick out just like their moms. 

"I would hear all kinds of things: Dumbo, whatever. I didn't like it. It made me feel insecure," said London Woodward, the girls' mother. 

After years of ridicule, Woodward had her right ear pinned back as an adult. Now, she's considering letting her daughters get the procedure.

"They've been teased a little bit in elementary and in junior high so it's something I think they want to do, so we're behind them," Mrs. Woodward said.  

"People judge you on a lot of other things and then when you add an ear to it, it makes you feel bad," said Aubrey Woodward.

Dr. Olding says it's a fairly common and simple procedure that's often done on children. But he says he only does cosmetic surgery on children who have a certain level of emotional maturity.

"There is a difference between teasing and bullying," the doctor says.  Kids will tease you over anything, he says.   But when it turns ugly, and kids are being bullied, the doctor says bullying is not an appropriate reason to have plastic surgery.

Olding says if a child who's being bullied about her large nose gets her nose done, the bully will not stop. He says the bullying itself has to be addressed.     

Most importantly, he says, the emotional maturity of the child has to be considered before plastic surgery is performed. 

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