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Teens Hot For Surgical Looks

You may remember your teen years as an awkward time filled with self-doubt and insecurity, often about your appearance. You may even have ransacked the cosmetic counters for desperate solutions. Now, a growing number of adolescents are going under the knife for cosmetic surgery. Early Show National News Correspondent Jon Frankel reports.



Jennifer Ebell is like so many 18-year-old college freshmen. She works out, has joined a sorority, and pulls all-nighters.

And, like a growing number of teen-agers, Jennifer is altering her appearance. She is having cosmetic surgery because, she says, her eyes are puffy.

"They're really puffy, to the point where makeup doesn't help. It makes it minimal but you can still see the puffiness," she says.

Since taking a high school TV class, Jennifer has set her sights on a career in television. But she believes her puffy eyes stand in the way.

"Wanting to do a career in broadcast journalism, I actually need to have that look where I'm awake, not tired," she points out.

Jennifer Anderson, a 19-year-old culinary student, says she had cosmetic surgery not because she wanted to look good for others but because she wanted to feel good about herself.

Two months ago, she had chin liposuction. "This is me with my huge double chin there," says Jennifer, pointing to an old photograph. "My hair was down to cover my face and curly so you couldn't see me."

"I just felt like I couldn't have so much fun because I was so ugly to myself, so insecure," she adds.

While looking at "before" and "after" pictures taken by her doctor, she says, "I didn't want to look like a Barbie or a Ms. Teen. I just wanted to look like a normal person."

Jennifer's mom says she was devastated to hear Jennifer call herself ugly, but insisted that Jennifer wait three years before having surgery.

"It would be no more than if someone else had any other kind of birth defect that constantly was a wall, and she just kept running into it. It wasn't an easy decision, it wasn't a simple decision, but it was the decision she needed," says her mother.

Dr. Patrick Abergel, who performed the surgery for both Jennifer Ebell and Jennifer Anderson, says he's providing a service. "You have to look the best you can to get the best job in order to fit into society, and that's where cosmetic surgery can come in and make people feel better about themselves," says Dr. Abergel.

The cost of each girl's surgery was about $4,000. Both operations were done by laser to cut down on bruisig and swelling.

Jennifer Ebell acknowledges that she is bowing to society's standard of perfection.

"The culture we live in is influencing my ultimate decision. I'm just going to have to go along with it....I've got to play by the rules," she says.

Jennifer Anderson's outlook on life has changed with her new look. "I was so reserved, I was in this little, tiny shell. I was a balled up, little tiny person," she says. "Now I'm happy all the time, I'm always smiling. I'm like a completely different person now."

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