Children with Down Syndrome: Plastic Surgery
Children with Down Syndrome share similar characteristics such as its effects on their facial features. The bandwagon of most children protracts such features as extra skin. As a result, these children have an epicanthi fold that is additional skin on their eyelids inner corners. In addition, they have slanted eye openings rather than the horizontal openings, a feature referred to as slant palpebral tissues. Besides, such children have flattened nasal bridge and may also have downturned lower lip and flat mid-facial zone. Notwithstanding, they may have an open mouth with a protruding tongue. Plastic surgery was proposed in the 1970s as a way to reconfigure their children’s facial features to recover from Down Syndrome. Surgery recoveries for this ailment are categorized into facial reconstruction and tongue surgery. The treatment approach has elicited mixed debate on the parenting and parenting rights. This paper argues that parents of children with Down Syndrome should not subject their children to plastic surgery to make them look more conventional.
To begin with, interventions to change the body of a child may involve use of medicines, surgery or hormones. Conventionally, such interventions inflicted some physical damage to the children and are generally optional (Ameen & Boby, 2013). The procedures to reshape the body of a child are irreversible, invasive and potentially dangerous. Nonetheless, the fact these decisions are made indifferent to therapy needs differentiates them from similar parental decisions that design the child. Indeed, current laws do not consider the difference in these decisions, and therefore, parents can decide to subject their children to various body shaping. Current laws are indifferent to children body shaping decisions although they raise concerns on child rights, parental rights as well as parent obligations.
In the U.S.A for instance, it is constitutionally and in common law embalmed that competent adults decide on their personal medical decisions. These decisions go beyond lifesaving treatment, dangerous cosmetic procedures and election treatment. In this regard, children are not considered as competent adults. Ethicists argue that teenagers and young children should decide on their medical procedures. However, the law vests decision making for teenagers and children on their guardians and parents withy limited restrictions. Therefore, legally, parents are free to decide among different alternatives including plastic surgery to reshape their children.
Obviously, there is much as stake when parents are allowed to subject their children to plastic surgery even when the children have Down Syndrome. Firstly, plastic surgery inflicts physical harm as it involves piercing and cutting of the skin (Ouellette, 2010). Besides, it may entail removal of organs or tissues as well as injection or anesthetizing with hormones. Consequently, the children stand at a risk of suffering cancer, nerve damage, hypertension, diabetes or death in extreme cases. Notwithstanding, such children are likely to suffer from psychological risks associated with injury to identity and stigma. Still, the piercing, cutting and injecting the tender skin of children constitute child abuse.
For ages, plastic surgery was a recipe for austerity and ostensible rich or a requisite recovery treatment for birth deformities and trauma sufferings. However, today, it is an optional cosmetic surgery accessible to people of all economic structures and ages (Ouellette, 2010). In spite of these, this paper is of the opinion that it should be accessible to adults only. For this reason, the researcher does not harbor ill will against plastic surgery for treatment but emphatically reserves it for adults only. Therefore, this is not a grand conceptualization to present a teenage girl for breast implants to rejuvenate her low self esteem. Neither should a teenage boy be subjected to plastic surgery for skin acne scars. Instead, parents should tally for a few more years for them to make these shaping decisions in their adulthood.
Parents of children with Down Syndrome subject their children to plastic surgery to make them look “more conventional”. To begin with, “conventional” is a relative word in Down Syndrome vocabulary because most children tend to take after other members of their family (Ameen & Boby, 2013). Therefore, there is nothing unusual. So, conventional is a term used to brandish children with Down Syndrome by their parents to refer to a “less embarrassing” look. Note that I do not use any particular term for that purpose. As a result, my son and daughter are my children, period! If they have Down Syndrome, they are not normal, weird, and conventional or anything like that like their elder siblings or not. They are my children, period!
Coincidentally, parents subjecting their children to cosmetic surgery claim unconditional love to their children (Ameen & Boby, 2013). However, they willingly, uninfluenced and independently expose their children to pain and suffering in an effort to throw a cover over their having Down Syndrome. Most of the parents claim to mitigate humiliation, embarrassment and pain from teasing by “fitting them in”.
Pardon my dumbness, but I wonder how it helps a kid with learning disabilities learns that his parents were extremely embarrassed and ashamed of their outlook that they would have spent astronomically to reverse the situation (Ameen & Boby, 2013). Equally, I wonder how it helps the child when it is teased at school for being “unconventional” while the peers cannot tell that the child has Down Syndrome. For this reason, parents of children having Down Syndrome should not subject their children to plastic surgery. They should wait for the children to become of age and make personal decisions. After all, plastic surgery is an irreversible condition.
Ameen, F., & Boby, C. (2013, June 4). Parenting a Child with Down Syndrome. HubPages. Retrieved December 27, 2013, from http://society-parenting.hubpages.com/hub/Parenting-a-Child-with-Down-Syndrome
Ouellette, A. (2010). Shaping P arental Authority Over Children ‘ s Bodies. Indiana Law Journal, 85(3), 956-1001.