Germany Bans Cosmetic Surgery for Minors

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Photo: B. BOISSONNET / BSIP/Corbis

Germany’s new coalition government is working on a law banning cosmetic surgery for minors, the Local reports. "I think it is completely unacceptable to give a 15-year-old a breast enlargement as a Christmas present," Jens Spahn, health spokesman for the Christian Democratic Union (which has been campaigning in favor of the law for a while), told Der Spiegel.

The law makes an exception for cosmetic procedures deemed "medically necessary," but doesn't address potential grey areas (accident victims, for example). Yet the bill's proponents are confident the new legislation will be in the physical and psychological interest of the country's minors: “Youth protection is also about protecting young people from the consequences of a wrong-headed beauty craze,” Spahn added. 

Though Germany is not the first country to consider such restrictions — the Australian state of Queensland introduced a similar ban in 2008, and Italy banned breast enhancements for patients under 18 in 2009 — they remain far from the norm. The U.S. FDA advises against breast implants for minors, yet cosmetic surgery for children is legal with parental consent. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons “has no formal position on plastic surgery for teenagers,” and advises parents to evaluate their child’s physical and emotional maturity before seeking surgery.

And of course, some surgeons would argue that cosmetic surgery can be in a child's best interest: Last month, ABC News reported that the number of children getting plastic surgery in response to bullying has increased by 30 percent over the past decade.