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Doctors perform surgery (generic) R 370.(Photo by: REUTERS/Swoan Parker)
C'tee: Supervise esthetic surgery on minors
Knesset Committee for the Rights of the Child demandsthat the Health Ministry supervise surgical procedures on minors.
The Knesset Committee for the Rights of the Child demanded on Tuesday that the Health Ministry supervise esthetic surgery of minors.

The ministry conceded that surgical procedures in these commercial institutes are not fully and properly supervised.

Committee chairman MK Orly Levy-Abecassis (Yisrael Beytenu) said that such surgery, including the enlarging or minimizing of breasts, should be prohibited below the age of 17.

“Children’s body image is influenced by many factors, and they have the illusion that if something is fixed, everything in their lives will be too,” the committee chairman said.

The Knesset Information and Research Center found that even though cosmetic treatments – from hair removal and blurring of scars to plastic surgery – have become very popular among minors, they are not supervised properly. Treatments fail, and some children have developed medical problems as a result of esthetic treatments, the center said.

Children are too young and have insufficient judgement to undergo such treatments, they added. Knesset researcher Maria Rabinovich said at the committee that while it had discussed the issue five years ago and even made specific recommendations, the ministry did not accept them or implement them.

Israel Medical Association secretary-general Lea Wapner welcomed the discussion and said the issue had received much less attention than it deserved. The IMA plans to hold a medical meeting on all specialties connected to esthetic treatment of minors, she said.

Prof. Arnon Afek, head of the ministry’s medical administration, said the issue is not only medical but that it has many aspects connected to ethics and children’s self-image. The child who feels the operation will improve his life must be given the option of undergoing surgery, but he must not develop false expectations, Afek said.

The senior ministry official said that it sends inspectors to esthetic surgery clinics and that recently, it sent out guidelines defining who may perform such work. Those that do not perform surgery, however, are not supervised at all.

Dr. Amos Leviav of the Plastic and Esthetic Surgery Society, said he agrees that girls under 17 should not be able to undergo esthetic surgery on their breasts except in extreme cases.

“The ministry will not go to private institutes, but it should decide if it requires reporting [of complications], and today there is no such thing.”

Leviav added, however, that operations such as otoplasty, or ear pinning, for “elephant ears” in children are performed from the age of six because they are considered “lifesaving” as the child suffers much embarrassment and abuse as a result of the way he looks.
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