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Teen Health

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Is Plastic Surgery a Teen Thing?

For some teens, plastic surgery can be a godsend. But it has to be for the right reasons.

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 Adolescent Gynecology.

"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.

Is Your Teen Right for Plastic Surgery?

When it comes to teens, part of the challenge is deciding on appropriate candidates who can not only benefit from cosmetic surgery but also understand its limitations.

"Teens who are encouraged to have surgeries by families and friends when they are not interested are poor candidates for plastic surgery," Malcolm D. Paul, MD, president-elect of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and a plastic surgeon in Newport Beach, Calif., tells WebMD.

"The motivation should come from within and not without," he says. "It has to be for the right reasons, not because mom and dad feel that it's something a child should do."

Darrick Antell, MD, a New York plastic surgeon, says before he performs many procedures on a teenager he tries to make sure that the concern is consistent.

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