Thanks to the rise of social media, teenagers often compare their appearance to others on social media. They see celebrities and/or peers appearing to live their best life on Instagram or TikTok and want to achieve the appearance of the people they admire. Social media has also proven to be a “two-way street” as teenagers often receive almost instant feedback on their own look from others they follow on various platforms. In order to achieve the look they desire, many teens turn to cosmetic surgery to alter their appearance and enhance their current look.
In a new study that was recently published in the journal “Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery”, data was compiled about the most common cosmetic surgery procedures that are performed on teenagers. When discussing the results of the study, Dr. Min-Jeong Cho, the co-author of the study and a plastic surgeon in Dallas, said “Our research exposed a need for stringent guidelines, particularly when it comes to determining when a procedure is appropriate to perform and the recommended age for each procedure. So that’s what we set out to deliver.”
As recently as 2017, teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19 underwent 4\\% of all cosmetic surgery procedures performed that year. Some of the most common procedure performed on this age range of patients included rhinoplasty, cosmetic ear surgery and male breast reduction. There were also more than 160,000 nonsurgical cosmetic procedures performed that year and they included Botox and laser hair removal.
The reasons for the cosmetic procedures varied but one of the main reasons was a desire to improve the self-confidence of the teenagers. Teens also seek out plastic surgery to address health issues and to simply look better on social media. However, some of the procedures undergone by the teens might not be appropriate for patients in that age range.
The other co-author of the study, Dr. Rod Rohrich, a plastic surgeon in Dallas, told ABC News that “we wanted to do this study to help teenagers and parents understand that there are cases in which it is appropriate for a teenager to have plastic surgery. For example, in instances where a teen has prominent ears or a nasal deformity, having those features corrected can help to greatly improve a teen’s psychological maturation and enhance their self-confidence.”
Dr. Rohrich did express some concern about the growing number of requests for nonsurgical treatments simply to achieve a different look. He told ABC News that it is “concerning that there has been a surge in the use of injectables in young patients to achieve augmented cheeks and lips when there is no evidence that these procedures are safe for adolescents.”
The study also included recommendations for the appropriate ages for teenagers to have various cosmetic surgery procedures. The guidelines for recommended ages were determined by the extent of each procedure as well as the development and growth of the area of the body where the procedure is being performed.
The age guidelines for both surgical and nonsurgical procedures include:
Before undergoing any type of cosmetic surgery procedure, it is necessary for the surgeon to perform a complete examination of the patient to determine if the teenager is an ideal patient for the treatment. The complete examination will include a physical, mental and emotional examination of the patient. It is important for the doctor to determine if the teenage patient is having cosmetic surgery because they want the desired changes as opposed to having cosmetic surgery to make someone else happy with their appearance.
In addition, parental consent is necessary before a teenage patient can have the desired treatment. Once the doctor makes the decision that the teenager is healthy enough (mentally and physically) to have the surgery, the patient and the parents should discuss the desired final results and anything else the teen wants to know about with the surgery. It is also important for everyone involved to know about any possible complications or risks of the surgery as well as the expected recovery time and the steps necessary to maintain the final results. The desire to have cosmetic surgery is not something that should be entered into without the proper amount of knowledge and information necessary to make an educated decision.