It’s difficult these days to be a teen. Peer pressures abound, bullying is rampant, and the images on social media don’t help with feelings of inadequacy and lack of self-esteem. Some teens think that having plastic surgery will improve their self-confidence. There aren’t any empirical studies examining the long-term benefits of surgery in teens, but body image tends to improve as teens mature…whether they under plastic surgery or not.
In 2012, more than 236,000 cosmetic procedures were performed on patients between 13 and 19. More than 75,000 of those involved the nose, breast lifts and augmentation, liposuction, and tummy tucks. Few studies have examined the risks for teens of these increasingly common surgeries; additional research is needed for more controversial procedures such as breast implants, liposuction, and genital plastic surgery.
Reconstructive surgeries such as those to correct cleft palates and lips, and prominent noses and ears, absolutely benefit children and youth; these are not considered controversial. But the cultural phenomena of surgical makeovers on reality TV and the increasing pressures on teens to conform to unrealistic standards of beauty make it increasingly difficult to agree on what constitutes a “normal” appearance.
It’s true…the teenage body is still maturing…and that is one of the major concerns when it comes to plastic surgery on adolescents. As some girls mature, the need for breast implants may diminish. The FDA has approved saline breast implants for women 18 and older; silicone gel breast implants were approved by the FDA in 2006, but only for women 22 and older. This age restriction reflects the FDA’s concerns regarding the risks of breast implants, and teens’ ability to fully comprehend those risks. Teenagers are often oblivious to the well-documented long-term health consequences of tanning, smoking and other risky behaviors, and are likely to pay even less attention to the risks of cosmetic surgery, making informed consent difficult.
If you are the parent of a teen who is requesting a cosmetic surgical procedure and you would like to discuss your options with us, please give us a call. We look forward to meeting with you and helping you and your teen contemplate this very important decision: (508) 334-5990.