My Teenager Wants Cosmetic Surgery. Now What?
By Atlanta Plastic & Reconstructive Specialists, on January 20, 2015
According to a 2013 report from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), 63,623 people between the ages of 13 and 19 underwent cosmetic surgery procedures in 2013, with another 155,941 undergoing cosmetic minimally-invasive procedures the same year.
The top five procedures were:
- Rhinoplasty (nose reshaping). This procedure is the most popular by far with teens. It can be performed safely at a relatively young age, since the nasal bone structure does not take as long to develop and settle as other areas of the body.
- Breast augmentation. In females under 18, this procedure is done to correct breast asymmetry. This procedure is usually only recommended when the imbalance is significant, as the difference in weight can lead to back and neck problems.
- Otoplasty (ear reshaping)
- Gynecomastia (male breast reduction). Excess fatty tissue can lead to abnormally large breasts in teenage boys. Surgery is the only known effective treatment in many cases.
- Dermabrasion. This procedure is sometimes necessary for severe acne, scar tissue and other skin conditions.
Teenage children turn to plastic surgery for a number of reasons, a number of which are appropriate. The ASPS states that it takes “no formal position on plastic surgery for teenagers,” but notes that the “most rewarding outcomes” occur when three conditions are met: when the teenager “initiates the request[,]…has realistic goals…[and] has sufficient maturity.”
Is it a phase or is it permanent?
The teenage years are a tough time for all of us. Teenagers deal with unfamiliar emotions at high levels of intensity—coupled with pressure to be competitive. Heightened sensitivity with regard to appearance is typical. In some cases, teenagers may pursue plastic surgery due to poor self-image. In cases like this, cosmetic procedures are generally not advisable. Teenage children often lack the perspective to realize that their appearance will change naturally with time.
Is my child old enough?
There is no arbitrary age limit for cosmetic surgery procedures—as the minimum appropriate age varies from case to case. But one important factor to take into account is development. Generally, we do not recommend undergoing procedures in areas that are still growing and may change significantly in size or shape. For example, children should not undergo facial procedures until their faces have fully formed and the bone structure has set into its adult position.
It is common for young people to wonder about cosmetic surgery. When they see or hear about celebrities, family members, and maybe even older friends having procedures, it is natural for them to have questions. Parents should answer questions with factual, up-front information. Don’t belittle or ridicule their curiosity.
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