RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — You’ve heard of programs to stop bullying; now, parents are taking what some call extreme measures to stop it. Their kids are going under the knife getting cosmetic surgery.

“They would always, like, point it out, but then the more people pointed it out is when I wanted to change it,” 11-year-old Bella Harrington told 8News. “I thought that they stuck out way too much.”

“They were teasing her over it,” Bella’s mom, Sabrina Harrington, added. “One thing they said, she had elf ears.”

Dr. Joe Niamtu says about five percent of the population has protruding ears. He says many of his younger patients are getting pediatric cosmetic surgery.

Dr. Niamtu says when it comes to correcting an issue that’s prompting bullying, the younger the patient is, the better.

“We like to treat these children before they enter school, so it’s not uncommon that I’m doing 4- or 5-year-olds,” Dr. Niamtu said. “And the reason is bullying, or peer pressure. It’s been shown to psychologially to have the ability to affect their self-esteem or body image for the rest of their life.”

Experts say it’s not a decision to be made lightly.

“It’s no different than getting braces, that changes your appearance,” S. Harrington said. “If it’s going to make you feel better about yourself, so be it.”

What to some may seem like is just a slight change, made a big difference in this little girl’s life.

“I wear my hair up a lot and I’m not like focused on if people can see them,” says Bella.

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