Teenagers and Cosmetic Surgery
Should plastic surgeons be working on teens?
There's no avoiding the fact that teenagers are in the media spotlight. Adults have noticed it, and so have kids. With what seems to be the ever-increasing sexualization of young people, many parents are concerned that their teenagers are being held to ever-higher physical standards.
Adding to that, the media image of young girls molding themselves in the image of their favorite celebrities is prevalent. Television and magazines frequently feature young girls getting liposuction, facial surgery, breast enhancement, and other procedures as casually as they buy new shoes. Certainly, such an epidemic is enough to scare off any parent.
But according to a study by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, only 5% of college-aged women have had any kind of cosmetic surgery.
And of those surgeries, the most common is a chemical peel. That's followed by breast augmentation, nose reshaping, and breast reduction.
The same study, however, showed that 60% of young women aged 17 to 25 have considered getting some form of cosmetic surgery in the future.
But is cosmetic surgery a viable option for teenagers? The answer isn't simple, isn't easy, and isn't universal. For many teenagers, cosmetic surgery can boost their self-esteem and their body image and make them feel more confident overall. For a small minority of those studied--only 2.5%--a condition known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) caused them to focus obsessively on perceived defects in their appearance, making them poor candidates for surgery.
How do you tell whether cosmetic surgery is right for your teenager? The best solution, of course, is to contact a reputable cosmetic surgeon and have him or her make a professional assessment. The factors a surgeon will take into consideration include the following:
Physical maturity: Children and adolescents grow at different rates, so it's important to take into consideration whether the teenager is still in the process of growing into their new, adult body. For example, if an adolescent girl is still maturing, she may want to wait to see if nature takes care of her breast enhancement before having a cosmetic surgeon step in.
Emotional maturity: Before approving any elective surgery at a minor's request, it's important to establish what his or her motivations are, and how carefully it has been thought through. Adolescents are often subject to whims, so if the subject is constantly changing his or her mind about hobbies, appearance, friends, and other matters, it's vital to establish that the desire for a cosmetic surgery procedure is not a similarly passing phase.
Realistic expectations: Cosmetic surgery, while often delivering stunning results, is not a magic wand. It will not make a shy child popular and outgoing. It will not solve all of life's problems for a troubled teenager. It's important to establish just what the teenager thinks will be accomplished by the procedure, and ensure that his or her expectations are realistic. Cosmetic surgery can have a positive effect on a teenager's self-image, but it is certainly not the only factor.
For a professional assessment of these and other factors involved in making an informed decision about cosmetic surgery for your teenager, contact a reputable surgeon about the procedure and the screening process. Here are a few board certified plastic surgeons to consider: Leon Goldstein, M.D. in Providence, Rhode Island and New Haven, Connecticut, Paul Angelchik, M.D. in Phoenix, Arizona, and Dustin Reid, M.D. in Austin, Texas.