RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC/WFLA) — You’ve heard of programs to stop bullying, but now parents are taking measures to prevent it – and some people are calling it extreme. Their kids are going under the knife to get cosmetic surgery.
Bella Harrington, an 11-year-old from Virginia, is one of them.
“They would always, like, point it out. At first, I didn’t care about it but then the more people pointed it out is when I wanted to change it,” Bella said.
Bella says she thought her ears “stuck out way too much.”
“They were teasing her over it,” Bella’s mom, Sabrina Harrington said. “One thing they said is she had elf ears.”
Bella’s doctor, Joe Niamtu, says about five percent of the population has protruding ears. He says many of his younger patients are getting pediatric cosmetic surgery.
According to Dr. Niamtu, when it comes to correcting an issue that’s prompting bullying, the younger the patient is, the better.
“We like to treat these children before they enter school, so it’s not uncommon that I’m (operating on) 4 or 5-year-olds,” Dr. Niamtu said. “And the reason is bullying, it’s been shown psychologically to have the ability to affect their self-esteem or body image for the rest of their life.”
Experts say it’s not a decision to be made lightly. The Harringtons said they waited several years before Bella went to Dr. Niamtu.
“It’s no different than getting braces,” Sabrina Harrington said. “If it’s going to make you feel better about yourself, then so be it.”
Bella had her surgery in December. But two months later, she still has a hard time talking about the bullying and teasing.
“When people in the summer would ask if I wanted to go swimming or something, I’d be scared that they’d show,” she said.
Some may look at her before and after pictures and just see a slight change, but it made a big difference in the little girl’s life.
“I wear my hair up a lot and I’m not like focused on if people can see them,” Bella said.