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NEW YORK (CAP) - Doctors are warning that teenage girls are putting themselves at risk if they use certain increasingly popular procedures to emulate singer Lady Gaga, such as hair sculpting, eye stretching and thigh elongating.
"All of these procedures are completely unnecessary and carry with them health risks that teenage girls lack the maturity to consider," said Dr. Bentley Worthington, chief medical officer at New York's SDN Medical Center, who also questioned the integrity of doctors who perform the services. "I know I personally would not perform a thigh elongation on anyone under 18, at least not without a convincing note from a parent or guardian."
That procedure, which involves removing fat and cellulite from thighs and stretching the remaining muscle and cartilage to mimic Lady Gaga's stick-thin appendages, is one of the most invasive, and has already resulted in serious complications for a 16-year-old girl from Moonachie, N.J.
"I was only supposed to gain two inches to my thighs, three tops," explained a teary Caitlin Rogers, whose thighs were overstretched during the procedure, leaving the formerly 5-foot-2 sophomore class treasurer a towering 5-10 1/2.
"And I can barely walk on these things," she added, gesturing to her skinny legs, which have become so wobbly that it's jeopardized her after-school position as a cashier at the Lehman Brothers Discount Clothing Outlet.
The doctor who performed that procedure, Dr. Cornelius Patch, declined to comment for this article, but in a prepared statement noted that he waived his fee for the procedure, and also did not charge Rogers for surgically attaching a giant blonde bow made of human hair.
While that's an extreme case, health professionals warn that even more relatively simple procedures carry potential problems. Doctors point to the fad that started the faux Gaga craze, "circle" contact lenses that give eyes an artificial "doe-eyed" look like the one the singer wore in her Bad Romance video. An increasing number of girls are making the look permanent via eye-stretching surgery involving a laser and tiny eyeball-enlarging clamps that must remain in place for two weeks to work properly.
The result, in addition to corneal abrasions and blinding infections, is "an entire generation of girls who look like Bratz dolls," according to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
"I've talked to high school classes, and I tell you it's downright creepy, all those tremendous eyeballs staring back at you," said Duncan. "The only plus side is it takes attention away from their trampy outfits."
But even though officials have noted an increase in teenagers coming to school wearing leather masks, bras and panties covered only by loose-fitting blazers, and see-through body stockings with black electrical tape over their bosoms, only a small number of girls have those items surgically affixed. "I'd say 20 percent, tops," noted Dr. Worthington.
"It's the girls getting the procedures like those I mentioned that are the problem," he said, noting that even dying their hair the increasingly popular color of "Gaga Blonde" uses peroxide so strong that it's been known to seep into the cranial cavity, eventually reducing IQ scores by as much as 15 points.
"And believe me, most of these girls don't have a point to spare," said Worthington.
For her part, Lady Gaga has brushed off the concerns, much like she did the furor over her Telephone video. But another observer offers a cautionary tale.
"If I had to do it all again, I would never have had these cones surgically attached to my chest back in 1990," said Kate O'Malley, 38, a former diehard Madonna fan from Brockton, Mass., now a mother of two and PTA president. "For one thing, it made it wicked hard to breastfeed."
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