How Young Is Too Young? Teens & Plastic Surgery

By: Dr. Greg Wiener M.D. FACS

Plastic surgery used to be reserved for people who were advanced in years. It was rare that a young person or a teenager would seek the services of a plastic surgeon. However, in recent years, cosmetic procedures have grown in popularity among young people.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons over 200,000 procedures were performed on individuals between the ages of 13 and 19 in 2010. With young celebrities and television shows glamorizing fillers, injectables, and breast augmentations, it is no wonder that plastic surgery is becoming more acceptable among young women who want to preserve or enhance their looks.

Many critics wonder if such procedures are advisable or if a young person should really go under the knife before they are even able to drink or rent a car. Some even think there should be an age limit on plastic surgery procedures, and that procedures such as breast augmentations should be off-limits to young girls who are still developing.

Preventative or cosmetic, the truth is that any plastic surgery procedure should be made with careful consideration and prior preparation. This is especially true when it comes to teenagers. Teens are at particular risk when it comes to peer pressure and impulsive decisions, and unlike previous generations, their rash choices no longer just involve a butterfly tattoo or a piercing—they might involve a rhinoplasty or fillers.

Although making the decision to undergo plastic surgery is never easy, it can be a reasonable choice in some cases. While Botox for high school students might sound extreme, there are other procedures which have safely utilized over the years. For example, the most common procedure among teens is otoplasty (surgery to pin back the ears). Although this is a procedure that is approved for children as young as six or seven-years-old, it is often performed on teens as well. It is a relatively simple procedure that can help to prevent kids from being teased and improve self-esteem, although it is still a medical operation and should be seriously considered beforehand.

Parental permission is a must when it comes to making these decisions, and it is also important to make sure that the plastic surgeon is board-certified and aware of the unique challenges that might come from treating a younger patient. The teen should also be well-versed in what to expect when it comes to his or her procedure, and they should have reasonable expectations. They should understand it isn’t a “fix-all” for their problems, and that no procedure can resolve inner conflicts or insecurities. And, despite what you may see on TV, when it comes to breast augmentations, it’s a good idea to wait until the teen is done developing before interfering with her body’s natural growth.

Ultimately, plastic surgery is always a serious decision and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. In most cases, teenagers don’t have the ability or the life experience to be prepared for what the procedure might entail, so that is why it might be a good idea to postpone the procedure or take some time to prepare the child for what to expect.