When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Should There Be A Minimum Age For Cosmetic Surgery?

In Germany, one-tenth of plastic surgery patients are 20 years old or younger. Right now there's no minimum age limit, but lawmakers from the conservative Union parties say there should be. All, however, do not agree.

What is old enough to go under the knife? (gailf548)
What is old enough to go under the knife? (gailf548)


BERLIN – Given the life-long ramifications involved, choosing whether or not to undergo cosmetic surgery is by definition a serious decision. Yet a fair number of Germany's nip-and-tuck procedures – things like breast enlargement, nose jobs, or abdominal liposuction – are performed on children and adolescents.

There is presently no minimum age for such operations, which are either sought by the patients themselves or by their parents, who have a specific physical ideal they wish their offspring to match. The result is that patients under 20 account for roughly 10% of all cosmetic procedures, according to the German Association of Plastic Surgeons.

That could soon change. Germany's conservative Union parties, the CDU and CSU, are presently working on draft legislation that would forbid cosmetic surgery for minors (persons under 18) unless there are medical grounds for it. "For good reasons, the state protects young people from themselves as far as alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking go, and we think it's high time it did the same with regard to unnecessary and often risky cosmetic operations', said CDU health expert Jens Spahn.

So far, however, the bill does not have the backing of the coalition's junior party, the Free Democratic Party (FDP). "We are only currently aware of a few individual Union politicians seeking to ban cosmetic surgery for minors. We have yet to be presented with specific reasons or reliable facts with regard to this," Heinz Laufermann, speaking for the FDP faction, told the Berliner Morgenpost. Laufermann went on to say that the boundaries between medical necessity and a purely cosmetic operation are often "extremely unclear."

Spahn disagrees. "The difference between purely cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery for example after a cancer operation is extremely clear," he said, calling Laufermann's concern a non-issue. "In the first instance, health insurance doesn't pay, and in the second it does."

Finding a concrete way to anchor the project legally is another sticking point. In the last legislative period, an attempt to attach the bill to youth protection legislation failed. Its CDU/CSU backers might try now to have it taken up at the state, rather than federal level.

Laws differ in other countries. According to American Society of Plastic Surgeons, nearly 219,000 cosmetic plastic surgery procedures were performed on people age 13-19 in 2010.

Read the full story in German by Florian Kain

Photo - gailf548

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Migrant Lives

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

An orchid rehabilitation project is turning a small Mexican community into a tourist magnet — and attracting far-flung locals back to their hometown.

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

Marcos Aguilar Pérez takes care of orchids rescued from the rainforest in his backyard in Santa Rita Las Flores, Mapastepec, Chiapas, Mexico.

Adriana Alcázar González/GPJ Mexico
Adriana Alcázar González

MAPASTEPEC — Sweat cascades down Candelaria Salas Gómez’s forehead as she separates the bulbs of one of the orchids she and the other members of the Santa Rita Las Flores Community Ecotourism group have rescued from the rainforest. The group houses and protects over 1,000 orchids recovered from El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, after powerful storms.

“When the storms and heavy rains end, we climb to the vicinity of the mountains and collect the orchids that have fallen from the trees. We bring them to Santa Rita, care for them, and build their strength to reintegrate them into the reserve later,” says Salas Gómez, 32, as she attaches an orchid to a clay base to help it recover.

Like magnets, the orchids of Santa Rita have exerted a pull on those who have migrated from the area due to lack of opportunity. After years away from home, Salas Gómez was one of those who returned, attracted by the community venture to rescue these flowers and exhibit them as a tourist attraction, which provides residents with an adequate income.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest