How Young Is Too Young for Plastic Surgery?

Plastic SurgeryImage by Mitya Ku via Flikr

In a world governed by the maxim of peerless beauty and everlasting perfection, the number of women opting for cosmetic operations is on a constant increase, which is no reason for widespread concern per se. However, what can potentially be alarming is the fact that the age at which young women and girls are deciding to make some cosmetic corrections has begun to plummet over the past couple of years, and now more and more teenagers are scheduling their appointments with cosmetic surgeons these days. So, if your daughter has recently announced that she wants to submit herself to a surgery procedure for cosmetic purposes, here are a few things you will have to bear in mind when deciding whether to grant her wish.

Staggering stats: Cosmetic surgery among teens
According to the data of The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, as many as almost 18,000 teenagers (13-19 years of age) underwent Botox procedures to remove wrinkles last year. According to the same source, the average duration of the surgical procedure lasted 30 minutes and came with a price tag of under $400. In addition to that, the list of most popular cosmetic surgical procedures among teens begins with nose jobs (rhinoplasty) with 30,672 operations, breast augmentation as a procedure performed on 8,234 teenage girls and ear surgery (otoplasty) which was requested by 6,871 teenage clients.

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The right age: Individual differences in anatomic development
According to most plastic surgeons, settling on the right age to allow your teenager to undergo cosmetic surgery is not an easy task because of the differences in individual anatomic development, motivation for the operation and degree of maturity. For instance, certain bodily features mature at different ages: ears stabilize the earliest (at around 4), followed by the nose (which matures by 13 in most girls and at 17 or later among boys), and ultimately lips and breasts which tend to become stable and mature at the age of 20 or later. This means that your child may opt for injectable rhinoplasty in mid to late teens without any problems, granted other factors are met as well.

Maturity talking: Facing the surgical music and all that jazz
Maturity of your teenage child should also play a major role in the decision as to whether to give parental consent for a cosmetic surgery procedure. In most cases, if your child is aged less than 18, you will be required to sign a permission for the operation, and you will have to take into consideration your child’s motives for the procedure and their readiness to cope with the long-term effects of a nose job or breast implantation routine. If your child does not seem to show adequate appreciation of their anatomy due to peer pressure, bullying and/or imposed TV role models, it would be highly recommendable to have a candid talk with them first and try to reason with them and encourage them to find other ways to deal with their low self-esteem. Also, your teen will have to be informed about the potential negative side-effects of the surgical procedure (such as slight discomfort and temporary disfigurement) and the long-term impact of the procedure on their still developing body before they finally undergo a cosmetic procedure.

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Motivation for the procedure: Right vs. wrong reasons
The decision on whether to grant your child the wish to undergo a cosmetic surgery procedure for their birthday or to deny them the privilege until they are old enough to make the call for themselves will mostly depend on your good will and sound reasoning, but there are a few points to bear in mind when tackling such a request coming from a teen. First of all, you should know the precise reasons why your underage child wants to undergo the surgery and what induced them to consider such a procedure at that exact moment. Teens often have issues with their changing physiques and in most cases, their dissatisfaction with their anatomy is short-lived, but voicing a desire for a cosmetic procedure can point to some deeper insecurities, low self-esteem, peer pressure and lack of self-respect, so you should probably look into the real motives behind the demand more closely. As most experienced parents know already, it is always good to discuss major decisions like anatomic modifications with your teen in depth and with ample patience before you give them the permission to make some long-term changes that may prove unnecessary or even harmful in a year or two.

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Teens have a lot of stress on their hands – from peer pressure, unrealistic expectations from both others and themselves, to changing trends and popular figures and role models with 100% perfect bodies, so it’s not a wonder many teenagers wind up opting for cosmetic surgery as a go-to solution to remedy their small bodily imperfections. Before you make the final call, try to get it across to your child that human bodies tend to change a lot in puberty and post-pubescent period and that temporary dissatisfaction is not a good enough reason to opt for long-lasting anatomic modifications. Also, in case you do decide to allow your teen to undergo cosmetic surgery, make sure they are well-informed about all the pros and cons of any anatomy modifying procedure.

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