Most Likely to Go Under the Knife? Bullies, Their Victims

Scientists find connection between plastic surgery, bullying
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2017 12:01 PM CDT
Bullying and Plastic Surgery Go Hand in Hand
In this Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012 photo, a neurosurgeon uses a marker to outline areas for incision moments before plastic surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

There's a link between bullying and plastic surgery, but it's not just among those who've been bullied. Researchers say that the bullies themselves are also more likely to long for cosmetic surgery, reports Refinery29. It's a finding shown among 2,800 adolescents in the UK interviewed by researchers at the University of Warwick on issues ranging from self esteem to desire to change one's appearance. "Being victimized by peers resulted in poor psychological functioning, which increased desire for cosmetic surgery," they write. "For bullies, cosmetic surgery may simply be another tactic to increase social status, to look good and achieve dominance."

As the researchers report in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, fewer than 1% of teens unaffected by bullying have an "extreme desire" to have cosmetic surgery, but that number jumps to 3.4% of bullies, 8.8% of bullies who've also been bullied, and 11.5% of bullying victims. Their findings play out in a world where cosmetic surgery rates are on the rise, they add, noting that in the US alone, 230,000 of the 16 million surgical procedures that took place between 2014 and 2015 were performed on teens. Says the lead author: "Our main message to plastic surgeons is: If young people present with a desire to have a cosmetic procedure, screen for bullying and mental health. There may be other solutions that help without risk and address the root problem." (In some places, bullying is ticketed.)

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