(NaturalNews) It is becoming increasingly common for parents to give their teenage daughters breast augmentation surgery as a birthday or graduation present, says Stephen Greenberg, a plastic surgeon from Woodbury, New York.
"There are girls and women who are devastated by the fact that they don't have breasts and their friends do," Greenberg said. "They don't play gymnastics and they don't go on dates or they can't wear certain clothing, and I hear these things every day."
Greenberg said that in recent years, he has seen a 20 to 30 percent increase in plastic surgery procedures among young people. He said part of the reason might be the increasing popularity of cosmetic surgery among children's parents, or due to the example of celebrities.
Traci Levy, a professor at Adelphi University, said that the increase in plastic surgery may come from the rise in advertising for the procedures, along with an increasing public perception that cosmetic surgeries are common.
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery says that breast enlargement procedures among women under the age of 19 have increased by almost 500 percent in the last 10 years, compared with a 300 percent increase among the general population.
Public attention was drawn to this trend in March when an 18-year-old woman from South Florida, Stephanie Kuleba, died during a breast augmentation surgery. According to her parents, Kuleba underwent the surgery in order to make her breasts symmetrical and reverse an inverted nipple. She died from what appeared to be a fatal genetic reaction to the anesthesia used in the procedure.
According to Alan Gold, plastic surgeon from Great Neck, New York, approximately 400,000 breast augmentation surgeries were performed in the United States in 2007, 2 percent of them on people under the age of 19.
Breast augmentation accounts for 20 percent of all plastic surgeries in the United States.