TODAY

TODAY   |  January 03, 2014

Teen girl gets plastic surgery to stop being bullied

Fifteen-year-old Renata said she wanted to get plastic surgery so she can stop being teased about her nose. Her decision, supported by a nonprofit organization, is spurring discussion about beauty and bullying.

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>> take a turn now and look at a serious issue facing a lot of teenagers. how to handle being bullied because of their looks. could plastic surgery actually be an answer? hoda kotb takes a look at that controversial question through the eyes of one young girl .

>> reporter: for the kid on the receiving end of a bully's taunts, going to school can be torture.

>> they called me that girl with the big nose.

>> reporter: the bullies made her so self-conscious she rarely left the house. she has been home schooled for two years.

>> i'm just afraid i'll never have any friends or anyone to be there for me.

>> reporter: she was convinced the solution to her unhappiness was a smaller nose. plastic surgery . her mother was willing to try it but couldn't afford the procedure. then they heard about the little baby face foundation . a plastic surgery group that treats low income children with facial birth defects for free. she applied.

>> most of the time i stay in the house. i hate going out in public.

>> reporter: the doctor that runs the foundation says they get hundreds of requests a year from teens that say they have been bullied because of their looks.

>> we can't go after the bully but we can try and empower the children.

>> reporter: but providing elective surgery in response to bullying has drawn criticism.

>> do you feel like the bully wins? the bully bullied them into getting some kind of surgery?

>> i don't think that's reality. they have to have a facial birth defect and they go back and they may be the best looking kid in the school and they're not getting bullied anymore. that's just the feedback that you would get from a patient that you operated on their heart and now they're jogging again.

>> doesn't it put the burden on the victim as opposed to the bully? is that sending the wrong message?

>> i don't think that's sending the wrong message. she still sees what she sees in the mirror and it has an effect on her self-esteem and confidence regardless of what anyone says.

>> what do you think about that question?

>> if they see you getting the surgery to fix something they teased you about, i would think it would make them feel bad about doing it.

>> this is the big moment.

>> reporter: the doctor determined that she had a deviated septum and condition that made one side of her face smaller than the other.

>>> hey. nice nose.

>> reporter: in addition to a nose job , they gave her a chin implant to balance her face. isn't that great.

>> yeah.

>> parents correct children's teeth with braces to make their teeth straighter. they're still the same kid on the inside but children are judged with how they look.

>> reporter: and next week, she plans to return to a regular classroom for the first time in nearly three years. for today, this is hoda kotb .

>> interesting story. kind of a controversial subject. you can see hoda's full report this sunday on dateline at 7:00, 6:00 central time here on nbc.