Recently I had a patient of mine tell me that while she was in my waiting room, a young girl came up to her and asked, “What’s wrong with your face?” Wow. What a harsh thing for a kid to say.

My patient is a beautiful woman with all the confidence in the world, but had just had a procedure to reconstruct her face after a skin cancer was removed. Once she is healed, her scar will be imperceptible and I fully anticipate she will do great. But, this story highlights how children will often focus on physical characteristics of others that are different from their own. Children have not yet fully developed the portion of their brain responsible for discretion, and consequently the “filter” on what they say can often be lacking. There are many theories on how or why bullying takes place, but the bottom line is that this same phenomenon happens every day to kids that are “different” in their physical appearance.

Of course there are some children that rise up and are more confident and stronger for their physical differences, but some children can unfortunately become ashamed or self-conscious of their appearance. These children may shy away from activities and social interaction due to the deformity that has been made fun of by other kids. These children can often receive an amazing surge of confidence with what sometimes is a very minor procedure.

Whether the deformity is ears that stick out too far, a mole or birthmark in an aesthetically sensitive location, a traumatic facial injury such as a scar, or a congenital developmental deformity, these can often be addressed with plastic surgery. Often a few stitches here or there, can forever impact the life of a child. Parents often do not believe how affordable these procedures are, and most plastic surgeons work with foundations and charitable societies that can make these surgeries a reality for those families that cannot afford them.

So, the next time television portrays plastic surgery as big fake breasts or hot pink lipstick on oversized lips, remember that plastic surgeons are not always focused on making the beautiful more beautiful, but many times impacting the lives of small children so they can grow up with the confidence to succeed in life and change the world themselves for the better!