The teenage years can be challenging. Along with the stress of school and extracurricular activities, there’s the potential anxiety and embarrassment caused by a body that’s changing. Many teenagers feel extra self-conscious during those years. In fact, many teens want to do what they can to feel better about their appearance and themselves.
Some teens consider plastic surgery or other cosmetic treatments to correct what they see as flaws or imperfections. But is plastic surgery for teens ever an appropriate option? It depends on the circumstances.
Can Teens Have Plastic Surgery?
Teenagers can be candidates for plastic surgery and other cosmetic treatments depending on the type of procedure they want. There were more than 64,000 cosmetic surgeries performed on teens (people between the ages of 13 and 19) in 2015, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. There were more than 161,000 non-surgical cosmetic procedures performed on teens that same year.
Even though plastic surgery for teens is an option, it’s not always the best option for every teenager. Some teens aren’t physically mature enough for certain surgeries. Others might not have the emotional maturity needed to undergo surgery and recovery. The best first step is a consultation with a plastic surgeon if a teen is asking for surgery or wants to know more. The consultation will include a thorough discussion regarding the reasons why a teen wants surgery. This can help doctor and parent see if the teen is really ready for surgery.
Which Procedures Are Appropriate for Teenagers?
Not every plastic surgery procedure is appropriate for a teenager. For example, surgeries that are designed to rejuvenate the face or to make a person look more youthful are usually not right for a teen. That said, there are some surgeries that are usually looked at as anti-aging procedures that can have some other benefits. For example, an eyelid lift can be appropriate for teenagers who have ptosis, or a drooping eyelid that makes it difficult for them to see.
One of the more popular plastic surgery procedures for teens is rhinoplasty. As you might remember from your time as a teen, kids can be relentlessly cruel. A teenager who has a large nose or a crooked nose might feel super self-conscious about their nose. And that self consciousness might be made worse if their peers regularly make fun of them.
Although rhinoplasty is a popular procedure for teens, it’s not always the right call. Usually, surgeons recommend waiting until a teen’s nose has fully grown. This can be around age 15 in girls and around age 16 or 17 in boys. Performing nasal surgery before the nose has stopped growing can jeopardize the results which may be affected as the nose continues to grow and change.
A few other plastic surgeries are often performed in teens. They include otoplasty, or ear surgery to make the ears less prominent. Otoplasty is often recommended not only for teenagers but for children, usually over the age of five or six.
Some teenagers do ask for breast procedures, either to correct asymmetrical breasts or to augment or reduce the size of their breasts. Usually, breast augmentation is only performed on people over the age of 18. If a teen is over 18 but under 21, the surgeon will use saline implants during breast augmentation, not silicone.
Younger teens might be eligible for a breast reduction, but it is usually recommended that a teenager wait until the breasts are fully grown before considering surgery to change their size.
How Can You Tell if a Teen is Ready for Surgery?
Plastic surgery for teens isn’t always appropriate, even if a teenager is physically ready for a procedure. If your teenager is under age 18, you as a parent still need to give consent before the procedure can be performed. Here are a few ways to tell if your teen is really ready for surgery.
- He or she has realistic goals and understands what the surgery can and can’t do. Sometimes, teens look at their favorite celebrities and think that surgery will make them look like a star, which isn’t realistic. If your teen understands the limits of surgery and has a good idea of what it will or won’t do for him or her, that’s a good sign.
- He or she specifically asks for surgery. The request for plastic surgery needs to come from the teen himself or herself, not from a parent or friend.
- He or she can follow instructions and is emotionally mature enough for surgery. It’s important that your teen be able to listen to what the surgeon says and follow directions for the preparation before surgery and the recovery afterward.
About Dr. Ran Rubinstein
Dr. Ran Y. Rubinstein is a board certified plastic surgeon. He performs plastic surgery such as rhinoplasty and otoplasty on teenagers at his practice in Manhattan. He can work with parents and teenagers and help them make a decision about surgery that is most appropriate for a teen’s needs. Dr. Rubinstein offers patients a variety of procedures, both surgical and non-surgical, at Laser & Cosmetic Surgery Specialists, PC in Newburgh, New York. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Rubinstein, call 845-863-1772 today.