In the past, except for some rare cases, plastic surgery was limited to adults, usually older adults. A recent trend shows that not only are plastic surgery patients getting younger, the number of teens seeking plastic surgery is increasing. When should the answer be “yes” to teens and plastic surgery?
Recent statistics indicate that cosmetic and plastic surgery procedures amongst teens are on the rise, but not all of it is alarming. Common procedures that teens ask for include non-invasive skin procedures like microdermabrasion, chemical peels and laser skin resurfacing. These types of procedures can make acne scars and skin discolorations less obvious and can improve the overall appearance of the skin.
Over the past five years, dermal fillers have also made a significant impact in how faces and lips are augmented, not only in teens, but in adults. Teens have seen their “Hollywood” role models get overdone lips and cheeks and have followed suit. Unfortunately, many of these teens have been misguided and most plastic surgeons recommend against the use of dermal facial fillers during the teen years.
Hyaluronic acid fillers like Juvederm and Restylane are naturally occurring substances that may be a better option. Over a few months, they will slowly and safely be absorbed by the body. Though many people think it is too early, some teens are getting Botox, to inhibit the formation of lines on the face. In general, most professionals do not recommend the use of Botox or fillers for cosmetic reasons in teens but the good news is that the effects of Botox fade over time.
Procedures requiring surgery for teens are not as popular as they were a few years ago but some are still performed. Breast enhancements are still popular but rather than demanding larger breasts, teens are looking to improve symmetry and balance proportions for a sleeker, more athletic and more natural look. Some teens are even seeking breast reductions to accomplish this goal. In boys, male breast reduction procedures for gynecomastia are in demand. Gynecomastia, or the growth of male breast tissue, is considered to be the “silent male disease” and may be caused by medication side effects or obesity but may occur for other reasons.
Often, once boys fully mature and slim down, the breasts will disappear on their own. Severe cases however, may demand surgical attention to decrease the emotional impact excessive breast tissue in the teen male. In some cases, this can be done via minimally invasive techniques using Ultrasonic Liposuction which requires only a small.
Otoplasty, is a procedure that is commonly performed to reshape and correct prominent ears. It can be done during the teen years but may be done as early as age 6 or 7 when the ears are nearly adult-size, particularly if a child is being ridiculed at school with names like “dumbo ears.” The nose is also a common subject of teasing in school aged children and teens. Surgical nose reshaping or rhinoplasty or nose reshaping is also commonly performed when required for emotional reasons and both surgeries may result in dramatic improvement for teens, both physically and psychologically.
Some parents are continuing to give plastic surgery as a “gift” for graduation or other occasions but many plastic surgeons may be heaving a sigh of relief as teens are trending toward a more “natural” look.
Over the past several years, upticks in plastic surgery rates may have been driven by celebrity trends. The “selfie” has also been credited with increasing plastic surgery rates but the trend may be slowing. Increasing numbers of celebrities who had “botched” procedures or who simply went too far may have reduced outrageous demands and teens are appearing to become more satisfied with minor improvements.
Plastic surgeons who are faced with teens wanting plastic surgery must act as guides and help both teens and parents come to a reasonable expectation. Doctors usually require discussions with the teen to ensure that they are mature enough to understand both the risks and benefits of a potential change, particularly if it is a permanent, surgical procedure. In some cases, teens are encouraged to “wait and see” because additional maturity may give the teen what they want over time.
Most importantly, the parents or guardians of the teens must be involved. This helps prevent mistakes and misunderstandings and helps ensure both the physical and emotional safety of the teen.