New research by the University of Warwick in the UK has found that teenagers who are affected by bullying in any way have a greater desire than others to change their bodies by going under the knife.

Almost 2,800 adolescents aged 11 to 16 in UK secondary schools were screened for their involvement in bullying, through self and peer assessment. A sample group of around 800 adolescents – including bullies, victims, those who both bully and are bullied, and those who are unaffected by bullying – was analysed for emotional problems, levels of self-esteem and body-esteem, and the extent of their desire to have plastic surgery.

The research revealed that 11.5% of bullying victims have extreme desire to have cosmetic surgery, as well as 3.4% of bullies and 8.8% of teenagers who both bully and are bullied – compared to less than 1% of those unaffected by bullying.

Professor Dieter Wolke and his colleagues from the Department of Psychology and Warwick Medical School found that perpetrators of bullying want to have plastic surgery to improve their appearance and increase their social status. Victims of bullying, on the other hand, want to go under the knife because their psychological functioning is affected by being picked on – giving them lower self-esteem, more emotional problems and a desire to change their appearance.

The research, which was published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, showed that more girls go under the knife than boys, with 7.3% of girls wishing to undergo plastic surgery, compared with 2% of boys.

The researchers suggest that cosmetic surgeons screen potential patients for a history of bullying, and any related psychological issues.


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