Smartphone market leaders, Apple and Google, have been accused of promoting cartoon plastic surgery apps to children as young as nine years old. The apps were completely free and could be downloaded instantly. Due to a backlash on Twitter, the apps have been removed from the relevant stores.
Both Apple and Google advertised similar apps with the premise of a female cartoon character about to undergo a cosmetic procedure. The users of the app take on the role of the plastic surgeon.
Youngsters as young as nine have possibly been attracted to these apps as they feature Disney-type and look-a-like Barbie characters. For example, the iTunes app which has recently been removed from the iTunes store is called “Plastic Surgery and Plastic Doctor and Plastic Hospital Office for Barbie”.
The blurb to the app says: “This unfortunate girl has so much extra weight that no diet can help her. In our clinic she can go through a surgery called liposuction that will make her slim and beautiful. We’ll need to make small cuts on problem areas and suck out the extra fat. Will you operate, doctor?” This suggests that the only way to become 'slim and beautiful' is to go under the knife.
Amy Milner, an associate in the clinical negligence department at Penningtons Manches specialising in cosmetic surgery, says: “In an age where most children under ten either have a Smart phone or access to a Smart phone, it is concerning to see these types of apps being readily available and even recommended as being suitable for children.
“While the app was undoubtedly designed for fun, we sadly live in an environment where looks play an important role and young children, especially girls, are highly sensitised with how they look. These types of apps imply that undergoing a cosmetic procedure is straightforward, fun and you will achieve your desired outcome but it is important to highlight that things can go wrong and, on occasions, patients can be left with devastating results.”