Is Plastic Surgery a Teen Thing?
For some teens, plastic surgery can be a godsend. But it has to be for the right reasons.
Emily was always made fun of for her rather large nose. Then the summer
before her senior year of high school, she got a nose job. All of a sudden, the
same boys who called her Pinocchio and some other not-so-nice names were asking
Sixteen-year-old Kimberly's triple D breasts may have gotten the boy's
attention, but they made exercise -- and even walking -- painful. But a breast
reduction has changed her life. Now she can exercise freely -- even jog without
the back and neck pain that her large breasts once caused.
For teens like Emily and Kimberly, cosmetic surgery can be a godsend. But
for others such as those who are urged by their parents, it may be ill-advised,
prominent plastic surgeons tell WebMD. The key is making sure that the teen is
emotionally and physically mature enough to undergo the chosen procedure.
Chemical Peels to Liposuction
For a whole slew of reasons -- from its relative safety to its acceptance in
society -- plastic surgery is popular among people of all ages. The
number of kids 18 and under having plastic surgery rose from just under 60,000
in 1997 to nearly 225,000 in 2003, according to statistics compiled by the
American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
A report that looked at eight years' worth of data on teenagers found that
the most common cosmetic procedures in teens are chemical peels and
microdermabrasion to treat acne, laser hair removal, nose jobs, ear surgery,
breast reduction, breast enlargement, chin augmentation, and liposuction to
remove excess body fat.
In 2000, about 50,000 teens had chemical peels, and more than 21,000
underwent microdermabrasion. More than 15,000 teens aged 18 or younger had nose
jobs, and almost 12,000 underwent procedures called otoplasty or ear surgery
for protruding ears.
Male breast reduction was done in more than 2,200 young men with a condition
called gynecomastia or male breasts, while more than 2,100 girls in this age
group had breast enlargements -- some of which are done to correct uneven
breasts. Liposuction to reduce fat deposits in the trunk or chin was done in
more than 6,200 people aged 18 or younger in 2000.
Why Teens Turn to Plastic Surgery
There are many reasons that plastic surgery is increasingly accepted among
all ages, from teens on up.
"First, the surgery is safe; there are very few significant
complications. Second, our society places a high premium on physical
attractiveness and rewards those who are slender, youthful and handsome,"
conclude study authors Mary H. McGrath, MD, MPH, and Sanjay Mukerji, MD,
plastic and reconstructive surgeons at the George Washington University Medical
Center in Washington, in a recent issue of the Journal of Pediatric and
"Third, we live in a culture that emphasizes competition and legitimizes
self-improvement as a way to gain a competitive edge and lastly, plastic
surgery lives up to its expectations."
In places like Brazil, sometimes called the new capital of plastic surgery,
nips and tucks are fairly common -- especially among beauty pageant
contestants. Juliana Borges, 22, the new Miss Brazil who competed in the recent
Miss Universe pageant, had plastic surgery four times and underwent 19 smaller
cosmetic procedures. Borges had liposuction, chin surgery, fixed her nose and
ears, and also had breast implants. In fact, some were suggesting that if she
did win the Miss Universe title (Miss Puerto Rico won), the accolades should
really have gone to her plastic surgeon.