Colombia’s top court allows minors to have plastic surgery

World Today

In a controversial ruling, Colombia’s highest court is allowing minors as young as 14 to undergo cosmetic surgery. That’s a drastic shift from their ruling in 2016, which asserted that it posed too great a risk.

CGTN’s Michelle Begue reports.

Carolina Jimenez was 17 when she decided to get a breast augmentation.

At the time, she wasn’t happy with the body she was born with.

“When you are a minor you are very vulnerable to society,” she said. “You listen to what they say about what a woman should look like and be. You are told that there is some kind of competition. Who is more beautiful, who is more attractive.”

In Colombia, boys and girls as young as 14 years-old can undergo cosmetic plastic surgery.

Breast implants, nose jobs and Botox are permitted as long as the minor has parental permission, money to cover the costs, and a doctor’s approval.

The decision by Colombia’s Supreme Court is a reversal of a ruling in 2016. The same court had previously argued that cosmetic operations pose a grave health risk to minors as they are still growing.

But now, the court says the option to have plastic surgery is vital to minor’s rights to personal freedom, intimacy and psychosocial development.

Some health experts say the court ruling doesn’t address societal pressures on young women and the health risks involved.

“Their breast tissue hasn’t fully developed at that stage,” says Dr. Ernesto Barbosa, the Executive Secretary of the Colombian Society of Aesthetic and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery.

“They still have a couple more years before they will reach that stage. They haven’t matured and developed emotionally, and we are leading a child who is not developed to have a surgery that is not necessary.”

Carolina realized her decision ten years ago was a mistake and had a breast reduction.

She does not agree with the law, and says the court ruling to allow a child to make that decision is irresponsible. A few more years of living life allowed her to reflect and gain perspective.

“I began a journey of getting to know myself,” she says, “and there I was able to find the importance of self-acceptance without looking differently.”

In Colombia, the cosmetic surgery industry is very lucrative. According to International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, every five minutes plastic surgery is performed in the country.

But will the nation draw a line as to when the scalpel has gone too far?