Plastic Surgery In Teenagers: Safety And Side-Effects

Written by Ria Saha • 
Image: Shutterstock


Teenagers love to look good. They can spend hours in front of the mirror to get that perfect look. And, if they’re not happy with what they see, they won’t even bat an eyelid to modify it. Hence, they often think of undergoing plastic surgery.

But, unsurprisingly, going under the knife at this stage of life can lead to many problems for teens. So here is some important information about teen plastic surgery : its safety and side effects.

Plastic Surgery For Teens:

In some cases, a facial or physical deformity seems to be distressful for your teen. It hampers her emotional, psychological and physical well-being. Thus, you teen may think of opting for plastic surgery.

[ Read: Teen Body Image Issues ]

Teen Cosmetic Surgery:

There’re several different plastic surgeries that teen these days opt for. They’re:

1. Rhinoplasty:

It is a plastic surgery in which the shape of the nose is surgically changed and is also known as a nose job. The problems can be congenital, caused by accidents, or be age-related. The nose is the central focus of the face, and enhancing it will surely improve one’s appearance. In the USA, this the 2nd most sought after plastic surgery.

2. Otoplasty:

It is the process of changing the shape of your ears from a problem like injured ears, irregular ears, overhanging or small ears, etc. It would have zero impact on the hearing ability of your teenage child and will only enhance the beauty and confidence of an individual.

3. Breast Surgery:

The size and beauty of complete breast womanhood and many teenage girls also feel the same. With breast implants or mammoplasty the shape and size of the breasts can change. A silicone layer is placed just beneath the original breast, and mammoplasty is the most common plastic surgery in the USA. Some teenage girls are unhappy with their oversized breasts as they can’t wear all kinds of dresses. They opt for breast reduction surgeries to ensure that they can have an ideal-sized breast. Another particular type of surgery related to breasts in the breast asymmetry that rectifies the size difference between two breasts.

4. Chin Uplift:

Many people have sunken chin, and this can lessen the beauty of the face. The surgeon places the jawbones in the appropriate position. It is also known as mentoplasty.

5. Liposuction:

Teenagers these days want to stay slim, but they find it hard to curb their junk food diet. What follows are swollen bellies, love handles, and chubby buttocks which are a big no for them. Liposuction is the process where a process called lipoplasty removes the excess fat from the body. A proper-shaped body is a key to proper mental and physical health.

6. Acne And Scar Treatment:

Acne and pimples can destroy a teen’s peace. The rash of acne disappears with the use of medicines but in many cases, itching and scratches from nails can lead to scars or small holes. Hence, many teens don’t hesitate to undergo laser treatment where these problems are taken care of. The surgeons performing this sort of treatment or otherwise called microdermabrasion refinish the skin of the acne-affected teenager.

[ Read: Anorexia In Teens ]

7. Breast Reduction For Males:

While the teenage girls want to enhance their smaller breasts with implants, the boys face a different problem with their bigger breasts. These boys having gynecomastia undergo cosmetic surgery to decrease the size of their breasts. (1)

Negative Effects Of Plastic Surgery On Teenagers:

But there are different risks associated with plastic surgery. We should have a clear idea about them too:

1. Appearance:

  • One of the most unlikeable disadvantages of cosmetic surgery is unwanted scars. These hypertrophic scars are always quite prominent, and they are broad and reddish.
  • Unlike other scars which fade with time, these scars are visible for significant periods. If the job gets done on the facial part, it’s tough to hide the bruises or scars, and this affects the daily lives of the teenagers.
  • Bagginess and flabbiness of the region can also happen even after a successful surgery.
  • In many cases, the patients find that the surgery has not given them the desired result and add to that have made their face look horrible.

2. Huge Expenses:

  • The cost associated with these surgeries is extremely high. The horrific story does not end here as these prices are only for the surgeries. The fees for the doctors, hospitalization, anesthesia are the additional expenses.
  • After that, you need to cough up the medical bills for aftercare, medications and the wages lost for the break from workplaces, as many teenagers do part-time jobs. Your teen needs to consider all these costs before going for the surgery.

3. Addiction:

  • Teenagers are often not sure about their ever growing and changing the body. What they think as a deformity now can get fixed naturally over the age. But they’re restless enough to wait for the time and surgery.
  • And at times, this becomes an addiction just like body piercing. With so many surgeons these days and the obsession to be stand out in the crowd, teenagers hardly hesitate to opt for such procedures to correct these deformities.
  • Many save their house rents, utility payments, pocket money and even steal money from others to get their wishes fulfilled.
  • Sadly, this addiction has increased teenage crime rates all over the world.

[ Read: Homemade Face Masks For Teenage Skin ]

Should Plastic Surgery Be Banned For Teenagers?

Now that you know the nitty-gritty of cosmetic surgery for teens, it becomes easy for you to decide whether you should consent or disapprove of plastic surgery for kids. Only in cases where it is necessary, e.g. a deformed nose that restricts breathing, one should consider plastic surgery to fix the nose.

Dr. Gabrielle Caswell from The Cosmetic Physicians Society of Australasia opines that teenagers should never go for such surgeries unless it’s a medical or psychological reason. In Queensland, the doctors can be imprisoned for about two years if they operate on teenagers without proper cause. It’s the parents who should discuss the pros and cons with their children before taking any decision. If you maintain the standard guidelines and choose the right doctors, these surgeries should not be much of a problem.

Teen Plastic Surgery Statistics:

The statistics provided by American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) regarding the number of teens going under the knife is quite overwhelming. Let’s go through the numbers quickly:

  • In 2013, about 63,623 teenagers within the age limit of 13-19 went for cosmetic surgeries, and when it came to cosmetic minimally-invasive procedures, the number jumped up to 155,941.
  • In 2013, there were 30,672 rhinoplasty incidents in which accounts about half the number of surgeries performed that year.
  • With more than 6,871 surgical procedures done in 2013 among that same age group, otoplasty was done about 10.7%.
  • In May 2000, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made it legal that only women aged 18 and above can go for breast implants. Later in November 2006, FDA made it clear that breast augmentation using silicone implants can be done by women who are aged 22 or above. Based on these legal rules, the statistics change a bit for this cosmetic procedure. Within the age group of 18-19, the number of reported breast enhancement surgeries is more than 8,234.
  • In 2010, the number of breast reduction surgeries counted around 4000.
  • As already mentioned before microdermabrasion procedures are quite common among the teenagers and doctors performed 9,640 plastic surgeries in 2013. When it comes to laser treatment and Botox surgeries for the upliftment of the skin, the number is quite high: 25,377 cases of laser skin resurfacing, 6,119 counts of chemical shedding of skin and 17,978 cosmetic procedures of Botulinum Toxin Type A (Botox, Dysport) in 2013.
  • With about 5,866 cosmetic procedures done among the males aged 13-19 in 2013, Gynecomastia had a 26% count.

Why Do Teenagers Get Plastic Surgery?

There’re several reasons for which the teenagers go for cosmetic surgeries. Let’s discuss them now:

1. Physical Benefits:

  • The beauty in appearance that cosmetic surgery brings is unmatched in many cases.
  • There can be bruises or bulges in the initial period but as time goes the beauty cannot go unnoticed.
  • Say, for example; your teenage girl undergoes breast implants, and there can be scars on her breasts which the world will never see. What they’ll see though is a beautiful and confident young girl.

2. Emotional Benefits:

  • The mental happiness that one can get from cosmetic surgery surpasses the physical benefits.
  • The defect in your nose never made you get along with others, the wrinkles on your face made you look older than you are, the size and asymmetry of your ears made you a laughing stock; all these gets rectified with cosmetic surgery.
  • Proper cosmetic surgery aids in the emotional health and the raising of self-esteem of your teen.

[ Read: Fashion Clothing Tips For Teens ]

3. Medical Reasons:

  • Among patients who suffer from skin cancer, this is the commonest treatments that a surgeon does. The other two such problem solved by plastic surgery is cleavage lip and palate fixation.
  • If these problems do not get solved, the individual can face difficulties in communication with others or eat the food.
  • Many people face breathing problems, sleep apnea due to deformity of their nose. Rhinoplasty is the only way to fix these issues.

Is It Safe For Teens To Opt For Plastic Surgery?

No, plastic surgery is not safe for all teens. If your teen suffers from the some chronic condition, she should not opt for the surgical procedure. The plastic surgeon examines the complete medical history and advice whether it is safe for the teen or not.

Dangers Of Plastic Surgery:

Like any other form of surgeries, this kind of surgery also comes with its share of medical issues that includes death.

The issues that are so familiar with a plastic surgery gone wrong is contagion, relentless hemorrhage, injury to nerves that may cause lack of sensation, tissue death (necrosis), accumulation of fluid around the surgically treated region (seroma) and scars (hematoma).

Internal blood clots and deep vein thrombosis is also quite common medical risks. There are instances when a teenager has done these surgeries from non-certified doctors just to save money. (2)

Considerations Before Opting For The Cosmetic Surgery:

Now that you know that so many teenagers aged as your son or daughter go under the knife every year, you should also know that these surgeries always come with their baggage of risks and problems. Your teen should consider certain factors before going for the surgery; else the desired result would never be achieved. Here are some guidelines for both the teenagers and their parents planning to undergo these surgeries:

1. Certified Surgeons:

The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) provide certificates to the doctors to plastic surgeons, and one should always go for these surgeons only. The certificates are only acquired by specialists who:

  • Have completed graduation from a reputed medical school,
  • Have a background of six years in surgical training, in which three years are devoted to plastic surgeries only,
  • Successfully passing the exams containing written and oral papers.

[ Read: Undereye Dark Circles In Teenagers ]

2. Authorization:

All the surgeries are performed using anesthesia. Besides the fact that these surgeries are done using slight local anesthesia and negligible oral sedation, there are certain guidelines that these surgeons need to follow at the facilities where the plastic surgeries get done:

  • The medical facility should possess accreditation by the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF), the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC), or the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.
  • The facility should have the certification under Medicare program under Title XVIII,
  • The facility should at least procure a license provided by the state medical board.
  • It should be noted here that all the surgeons who are an ASPS Member will always have above certifications and authorized medical facilities ready for you.

3. Informed Consent:

  • It is the process where the patient, the parents, and the surgeons sit together and discuss the details of the surgery, pros, and cons, adverse effects of the procedure, medical bills, etc.
  • After all, these are considered, the patient parties give informed consent to the doctors, and only then doctors perform the surgeries. (3)

What are your opinions regarding teens and cosmetic surgery? Share your views in the comment box below!

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