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Boob Jobs, Butt Lifts, and Other Plastic Surgery to be Banned for Colombia’s Teens

A new law will prohibit performing most plastic surgeries on minors under eighteen.

Colombian plastic surgeon Lina Triana holds one ob the prothesis to be implanted to Angie Astudillo in Cali, Valle del Cauca department, Colombia, on October 24, 2013. The city of Cali has become one of the favorite destinations for men and women from different countries who seek low cost cosmetic surgery performed with professionalism and experience. AFP PHOTO / Luis ROBAYO        (Photo credit should read LUIS ROBAYO/AFP/Getty Images)
Colombian plastic surgeon Lina Triana holds one ob the prothesis to be implanted to Angie Astudillo in Cali, Valle del Cauca department, Colombia, on October 24, 2013. The city of Cali has become one of the favorite destinations for men and women from different countries who seek low cost cosmetic surgery performed with professionalism and experience. AFP PHOTO / Luis ROBAYO (Photo credit should read LUIS ROBAYO/AFP/Getty Images)

In Colombia, a plastic surgery is performed every five minutes. But a new law will help ensure, for the most part, those going under the knife have at least completed puberty.

The law, which Colombia’s Congress is expected to approve, prohibits performing breast and buttock augmentation, liposuction and botox, and other surgeries on people under age 18. Plastic surgery clinics also will be barred from using minors in their advertising.

Sen. Mauricio Lizcano, who introduced the law, told Foreign Policy in a phone interview Wednesday that it’s necessary because plastic surgery “has become the fashion for girls.” He added that the surgeries carried both physical and psychological risks for young people.

Lizcano said an estimated 30 percent of Colombia’s plastic surgeries are performed on minors, a worrying trend in a country that has the fifth-largest plastic surgery industry in the world.

Plastic surgery in Colombia is often used as a form of class mobility and a way to meet impossibly high beauty standards.

The Colombian Society for Plastic Surgery, Aesthetics, and Reconstruction helped push for the law, which makes an exception for ear surgeries, nose jobs, and reconstructive surgery.

The exceptions are striking, given that Lizcano has argued in the Colombian paper El Espectador that “16-year-old girls have not yet developed their personality enough to make a decision that is going to change her life.”

But Lizcano told FP that ear and nose jobs are different because they are “completely safe” and do not pose any psychological risk for minors.

Yet people who seek out rhinoplasties have a higher risk of developing body dysmorphic disorder, in which individuals can become addicted to plastic surgery, said Lina Triana, a plastic surgeon and president of the Colombian Society for Plastic Surgery, Aesthetics, and Reconstruction.

Even so, Triana told FP in an April interview in Cali she has no problem with rhinoplasties for teens over 15, because noses are developed enough by then for the operations. She supports Lizcano’s law.

In the United States, where minors can get plastic surgery with parental consent, rhinoplasties account for about 50 percent of plastic surgeries performed on teenagers.

“Teens frequently gain self-esteem and confidence when their physical problems are corrected,” the American Society of Plastic Surgeons says on its website.

The International Women’s Media Foundation supported Megan Alpert’s reporting from Colombia as part of the Adelante Latin America Reporting Initiative.

Photo credit: LUIS ROBAYO/AFP/Getty Images

Megan Alpert is a fellow at Foreign Policy. Her previous bylines have included The Guardian, Guernica Daily, and Earth Island Journal. @megan_alpert

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