Nonprofit provides plastic surgery to bullied kids

Nonprofit provides plastic surgery to bullied kids
Nonprofit provides plastic surgery to bullied kids

A New York City nonprofit is using plastic surgery to help children who are bullied by their peers because of their facial features.

Saying goodbye to the baby face
Established in 2002, the Little Baby Face Foundation has helped provide corrective plastic surgery to more than 500 children born with facial deformities. Composed of surgeons, medical providers and cosmetic surgery industry professionals, the nonprofit offers funding to children with such deformities as malformed ear canals, facial tumors and cleft palates and lips. Most of the nonprofit's fund recipients are kids who come from low-income backgrounds, TODAY Health reported. However, recent TV reports featuring the organization have prompted an influx of applications from parents hoping to stop their children from being bullied on the playground.

In 2012, CNN reported on a 14-year-old Georgia teen named Nadia who received funding from the Little Baby Face Foundation for an otoplasty, an ear-pinning procedure. Nadia was repeatedly bullied for her "Dumbo ears" by her classmates, so having her ears corrected was the right decision because the teasing "hurt so much," she told the news source. ABC News added the Nadia also received a chin implant and a rhinoplasty.

After Nadia's story spread online, members of the Little Baby Face Foundation received more applications from tormented kids and teens than ever before, according to TODAY Health.

"You take a child, and you change the way they look. To anybody who sees them, they're good-looking," said one New York-based plastic surgeon who runs the foundation, as quoted by the news source. "That gives the child strength. We can't go after the bully. But we can try and empower the children."

Yet despite the growing interest in plastic surgery among bullied kids and teens, the surgeon reaffirmed that the Little Baby Face Foundation continues to provide funds for only those with medical reasons, not just cosmetic ones.

Bully, surgery and self-esteem
Plastic surgery among kids and teens has been garnering more popularity in recent years, coinciding with the increased awareness of the potentially dangerous effects of bullying. Yahoo! Shine reported that the number of plastic surgery procedures performed on children under the age of 18 has risen by 30 percent over the last 10 years, according to data from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. A major factor for this increase is the parents' fear of their children being bullied.

For children with devastating facial deformities, such as a cleft palate or facial tumor, not having them corrected could be life-threatening. But when it comes to kids being embarrassed by a large nose or big ears, experts are worried that plastic surgery doesn't provide them with the right solution.

"Are we saying that the responsibility falls on the kid who's bullied, to alter themselves surgically?" New York psychologist Vivian Diller said in a recent interview with NBC News. "We really have to address the idea that there should be zero tolerance of bullying, and maybe we even have to encourage the acceptance of differences."

Child psychologist Nava Silton added to FOX NY in a November 2013 report that plastic surgery covers up the child's self-confidence, which is the real issue at hand.

The choice for having plastic surgery on a teen is not an easy one, but consulting a psychologist and board-certified plastic surgeon can help parents make a more informed decision.