Question: Does social media affect plastic surgery in teens?

November 1, 2011

Kids should be prohibited from using Facebook or other social media until they are at least 15.
Kids should be prohibited from using Facebook or other social media until they are at least 15.

When Mark Zuckerberg was inventing Facebook, he could not have predicted the repercussions it would have: marriages, jobs, alliances and revolutions are just the tip of the iceberg. When Facebook falls into the hands of the young and vulnerable it could also become a perfect vehicle for bullying. According to Consumer Reports, 7 million kids under 13 are on Facebook. Among them is Nicolette Taylor, age 13, starting eighth grade in her town in Long Island, New York.

Nicolette’s mother spoke to a Nightline correspondent on October 11, 2011 about the effects of Facebook on her daughter. "They went on Facebook, and they started posting, 'Hey big nose.' It happened probably about five times that week.” What made Nicolette’s mother "crazy" was seeing Nicolette, otherwise a "tough" girl, sobbing. “If this is really hurting her like this, then she has to be feeling insecure and horrible about herself.”

Nicolette is not unusually sensitive or vulnerable. She is active and popular and, as a child, worked as a model for magazines and catalogs. When she was eight, she broke her nose for the second time, leaving it with a bump on the side.

She was a kid who could accept that getting teased was part of adolescence. If the teasing took place live it would have been limited to those in hearing range. But the teasing was done in Facebook. Coming into her new school, Nicole knew that all the kids had been privy to comments about her nose. "Everyone could see it," she said. "All my friends could see it, all my new friends, and I didn't want them saying things. Because gossip goes around, and it really hurts."

Nicolette’s mom had always told Nicolette she could get a nose job when she was 18. She changed her mind when the teasing began.

Nicolette went to a plastic surgeon that performs one-fourth of his rhinoplasties on teens. She is his youngest rhinoplasty patient so far, but the surgeon believes her nose was fully developed. Oddly enough, when your foot is fully grown, you can assume your nose has finished growing.

Dr. Richard Gallagher, a child psychologist, acknowledged the lasting damage bullying can do to a child's psyche. He thinks parents should give kids coping skills to stand up to bullies and should stay off all social media until age 15.

Teens are very susceptible to bullying because they usually cannot avoid the bullies or change their physical appearance. This has a major impact on self-esteem and could lead to future insecurities.

"It hangs crooked, and when I smile the tip of my nose kind of goes down like an arrow," Nicolette said. "It kind of bothers me."

Plastic surgery in teens has been shown to increase confidence and self-image for those who were uncomfortable about their appearance or have been teased. Since her surgery, Nicolette has started school and has even made the cheerleading team. She said she knew bullying might happen again, but now that she felt better about her appearance, she didn't care.  

The mission of the Aesthetic Society includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Aesthetic Society, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to

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