The teenage years are hard; it’s so difficult to grow up in today’s world. Social media doesn’t help matters, as bullying and peer pressure are rampant. Adolescents often lack self-confidence and have feelings of inadequacy when it comes to their body image – and may think that plastic or cosmetic surgery will fix everything.
Teenage plastic surgery statistics
In 2012, more than 75,000 nose restructuring, breast, tummy tuck and liposuction procedures were performed on teens between the ages of 13 and 19. The risks for teens from these increasingly common surgeries have not been empirically studied, and additional research is needed for the much more controversial procedure – genital plastic surgery.
Benefits of teenage plastic surgery
Reconstructive, non-controversial surgeries such as those to correct cleft palates and lips, or prominent noses and ears, are of benefit to children and teens. However, the cultural phenomena of surgical make-overs 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.
The adolescent body is still maturing. That is one of the major concerns when it comes to plastic surgery on adolescents. As some girls mature and their weight changes, 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. The FDA’s concerns regarding the risks of breast implants is evident in these restrictions.
The ability of adolescents to fully comprehend the risks of surgery is another concern. Teens are often oblivious to the long-term health consequences of tanning, smoking and other risky behaviors, and are less likely to pay attention to the risks of cosmetic surgery, making informed consent difficult.