Doctors, Politicians Call for Ban on Cosmetic Surgery for Kids | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 23.04.2008
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Doctors, Politicians Call for Ban on Cosmetic Surgery for Kids

Concerned members of a pediatrics organization echo politicians' demands for a ban on beauty operations for children and teenagers in Germany.

A plastic surgeon holds a silicone breast implant during breast implant surgery

Breast enlargement has been used by parents as an incentive for good school work

Doctors and surgeons from Germany's Federation of Pediatricians (BVKJ) added their comments on Wednesday, April 23, to those made recently by members of the ruling Social Democratic (SPD) and Christian Democratic (CDU) coalition.

Members of the coalition want to pass nationwide legislation that would ban certain cosmetic procedures for youngsters, such as breast enlargement.

Figures put forward in a draft bill state that about 10 percent of the estimated one million beauty operations carried out annually in Germany are performed on people under 20 years old.

In addition, the BVKJ expressed concern about piercings and tattoos for those under 18 and also called for a ban on these practices despite their exclusion from the cosmetic surgery bill.

Piercings and tattoos are not a central theme in the bill because regulations in the nationwide health system cannot be enforced in piercing and tattooing studios.

Fighting fads of fashion

A patient assessment at a plastic surgeon's practice

Youngsters trying to fit a certain body image turn to surgery

BVKJ speaker Uli Fegeler told reporters that piercings and tattoos, just like breast enlargement, chin restructuring and collagen lip injections, should not be allowed just because they are fashionable. "These lifestyle choices should be forbidden for children under a certain age," Fegeler said.

BVKJ president Wolfram Hartmann said in an article in the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper that a ban on piercings would protect children, particularly girls aged between 14 and 18 who favored the practice, and reduce associated health risks.

"This is about operations on a healthy body for which there is no medical necessity," said Hartmann.

There have been cases in Germany where children of school age have been allowed by their parents to have breast enlargement surgery as a reward for doing well in exams and undergone liposuction to help them fit into a certain beauty image.

Responsibility for decisions lies elsewhere, say some

A plastic surgery procedure

Some conservatives are against a ban on surgeries

But some politicians are against a law which would ban such surgeries. Gitta Connemann from the CDU's Bundestag faction said Wednesday that the decision should be left to the health insurance companies which pay for the operations, while CDU health expert Annette Widmann-Mauz said it was up to parents to decide.

Guenter Germann, the president of Germany's association of plastic surgeons, said that most of the operations carried out on people under 18 years of age were done for reasons of physical deformity or psychological suffering arising from the person's appearance.

He added that there was a concern among surgeons that these operations would come under the proposed ban.

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