Breast augmentation is now a sought-after birthday present

Increasing numbers of young women in the United States are requesting breast augmentation as a birthday present or a graduation gift.

According to health news site Natural News, one New York-based plastic surgeon claimed that he had seen a 20 to 30 per cent rise in cosmetic surgery procedures among young people in recent years.

Speaking on the rise in breast surgery, he said: "There are girls and women who are devastated by the fact that they don't have breasts and their friends do. They don't play gymnastics and they don't go on dates or they can't wear certain clothing, and I hear these things every day."

Some reasons touted for the burgeoning plastic surgery procedures carried out on younger people include the popularity of surgery with the girl's parents or the desire to emulate the example of celebrities.

A recent survey published in Australia, for example, showed that reality TV shows were somewhat responsible for fuelling the demand for cosmetic surgery globally. The hit US programme The Swan - in which the contestant underwent 13 procedures, including a brow lift, liposuction and a tummy tuck - was cited as one of the influencing shows.

Natural News also reported that Tracy Levy, a professor at New York's Adelphi University, said the rising perception that cosmetic surgery was now commonplace may also be responsible for the increase in young people seeking procedures.

The American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons recently stated that the number of breast enlargement procedures carried out on women under 19 years old have increased by almost 500 per cent since 1998.

In August, the British Association of Aesthetic and Plastic Surgery also stated that its surgeons had been approached by increasing numbers of patients aged below 20 in recent years.