Teen Plastic Surgery: Bri and Diana

Pre-Teen Troubles

Diana's 12-year-old daughter, Bri, is overweight. "If I could have plastic surgery done for Bri tomorrow, I would," she says. "It's just unfortunate that Bri looks the way Bri looks. The world has standards. You have to fit into a certain mold."

Bri says, "I want plastic surgery to help me be prettier because prettier and skinnier people have a better life. I think I should get liposuction in my face and my arms and my legs."

"When Bri is looking at herself in the mirror she does suck in her stomach and say she wishes she could have a tummy tuck," Diana says.

"When I look in the mirror, it does make me want to have plastic surgery. I look at myself and I don't feel good," says Bri.

"I do feel that plastic surgery may be an answer to her self-esteem issues. If Bri felt better about herself on the outside, she would feel better on the inside," Diana says. "Society has put a lot of pressure on kids today. And Bri doesn't fit the world's standards on body image, how you're supposed to look, and if that means plastic surgery for Bri, anything that I would need to do for my child, I would do."

Dr. Phil asks Diana, "Are you concerned about what message you're sending to her at age 12?"

"I am concerned," Diana says.

"And what is the negative message that you could be sending?" he asks.

"That she's not accepted by maybe myself or her family," she says. "I know she is accepted by her friends. But I do believe that by the world's standards, she isn't accepted."

"Because of the way she looks?"

"Because of the way she looks," she says.

"Let's just assume that for argument sake that you're correct, what have you done short of surgery to fix what you perceive to be a problem?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Well, Bri does dance, she does dance five days a week," Diana says. 

"And she's quite good at it," Dr. Phil notes. "And she's on the honor roll."

"She is on the honor roll, and keeping her busy with her dance has been something I've really tried to help her do, and she enjoys it. She's a great dancer," Diana says. "But she isn't able to dance to the best of her ability because of the weight issue that she has."

"You've kept her in dance, but have you had her evaluated medically?" he asks.

"I have. I've actually had her thyroid tested. And they said it came out fine," Diana says.

"OK, so this isn't a medically-based problem, this is a lifestyle problem," Dr. Phil says.

"It is," she agrees. Diana admits that she is the one who buys the food, prepares the food and presents the food in their home.

Dr. Phil introduces Bri, who joins him on stage. "So, what do you think of all this surgery business? Do you want to get plastic surgery?" he asks her.

"I do want to get plastic surgery," Bri says, explaining that she wants to remove some fat from her face, stomach, legs and arms. "Just so I could feel better about myself and people could feel better about me," she says.

"You're a great dancer. You're on the honor roll. You've got friends everywhere. You're as cute as a speckled pup, but you want to feel better about yourself?" Dr. Phil questions.

"Yeah," she says.

Dr. Phil points out that Bri is also not finished growing at 12 years old. He asks Dr. Rey, "Wouldn't a surgeon be operating on a moving target with a 12-year-old?"

"It is a moving target," Dr. Rey agrees. "There are so many things you can do before that. For a teenager, I think the most important thing is to develop that internal beauty. For example, cheerfulness, attitude, hard work, all these things that make you beautiful on the inside, and then we worry about these little things on the outside. That's what makes somebody a great human being."


Dr. Phil makes it clear that there's nothing wrong with wanting to look and feel your best. "How are you just as a person?" he asks Bri.

"I do like myself," Bri says. "I like how I have a lot of friends, and I hang out with my friends, and that's when I feel the most happy. But when I'm alone and I'm thinking about everything, it doesn't make me feel good. I like myself sometimes, but other times I just don't feel good about myself."

"What don't you like? And you have to answer other than your body," he says.

She pauses. "Sometimes I'm not respectful of older people, and people tell me I'm rude and stuff," Bri says.

"You're not going to be rude to me, are you? Because you could hurt my feelings and then I'd have to get a hair transplant or something," he jokes.

"What do you like best about yourself?" Dr. Phil asks Bri.

"I like that I have talents," Bri says. "I like that I use my talents. I like that I'm smart. That's when I feel good about myself."

Dr. Phil goes over Bri's best qualities, "You love dance, and you're quite good at it. You could be better, if you were in better shape probably, but you're good at it and you enjoy it. You're smart. You have a lot of friends and you're a good loyal friend and you're a giver. You support them and help them. So there are a lot of good qualities about you that have nothing to do with the wrapper. But you would like for your body to be different, you'd like to lose some weight, get in shape and all that, right?"

"Yeah," she says.

"OK, once that has happened, how would you feel different than you do now?" Dr. Phil asks.

"I would be more active," she says. "Most of my friends are really small and active and I don't feel like I can keep up with them when we're doing PE or anything like that. They can do a lot better stuff than I can. And I just feel like the ugly duckling."

"So you would feel less conspicuous, you would feel like you fit in better?" he asks.

"Yeah," she says.