Underage Cosmetic Surgery - Answers Your Patients Should Know

Posted August 11, 2021
Young Adults getting plastic surgery

When it comes to plastic surgery, the image in the mind of the public is normally one of an (older) adult patient having a cosmetic surgery procedure to gain a more youthful look. However, many people under the age of 18 want to have plastic surgery to correct issues with the nose, breasts, or ears. Younger patients that want to undergo plastic surgery should know the answers to some questions about cosmetic surgery before making the final decision to have a procedure.

Questions about Cosmetic Surgery for Underage Patients

1. Do they want to have cosmetic surgery or is someone else pressuring them?

The desire to have cosmetic surgery must be felt by the actual patient as opposed to pressure they feel from a friend or family member. Cosmetic surgery can help improve the self-confidence and self-esteem of a person and the decision should be given great consideration and deep thought. It is okay for the potential patient to discuss the pros and cons of a procedure with their parents, but the final decision is up to the actual patient.

2. Are they ready to have cosmetic surgery?

Emotional maturity is not the only milestone young patients should reach before having a procedure. They should also be physically mature enough to have their desired treatment. For example, their nose should have reached its adult size while the ears and breasts should have stopped growing before making any changes in their size or appearance. They should consult with an experienced and board-certified cosmetic surgeon before committing to having a procedure.

3. Do they understand the limitations and risks of cosmetic surgery?

Younger patients might be under the impression that any changes they desire can be achieved by having cosmetic surgery. It is important to set realistic expectations and for them to realize that cosmetic surgery does have some limitations in the changes it can produce (both physically and mentally). Young patients also need to know there are always some risks in having a surgical procedure and they should be aware of the specific risks related to their surgery of choice.

4. Are they ready for the recovery process?

Young patients should fully understand what is involved in the recovery process as well as how long it will take. Depending on the procedure, they will likely need the help of friends and family during the recovery period. The commitment to following the post-op instructions provided by the surgeon is a critical step in making sure they enjoy the desired results and a smooth recovery period.

Types of Cosmetic Surgery for Younger Patients

The decision to allow a patient under the age of 18 to have cosmetic surgery is one that is viewed negatively by some people even though others do not have a problem with teenagers having cosmetic surgery. While there are not any specific laws in the United States that block teens from having a cosmetic procedure, the consent of their parents is required if the patient is under the age of 18.

There are multiple plastic surgery options for younger patients, and they include:

  • Reconstructive plastic surgery is performed to repair an injury caused by an accident or traumatic event or to fix a physical defect that has been present for many years (such as a cleft palate surgery).
  • Rhinoplasty is one of the most requested plastic surgery procedures among teenagers as many of them feel their nose is too large or they have functional problems that impact their ability to breathe normally.
  • Otoplasty, also known as ear pinning, is a surgical procedure that changes the size or shape of one (or both) ears. It can be performed on children as young as five or six years old as well as teenagers.
  • Cosmetic breast surgery can be performed as either breast augmentation or breast reduction. Patients should know breast augmentation it is not recommended for those under the age of 18 and the use of breast implants in a patient under the age of 18 is considered to be an off-label use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Teenage breast reduction is often performed on female patients suffering from back and shoulder pain thanks to overly large and heavy breasts. Male breast reduction can also be performed on some male patients that suffer from gynecomastia (enlargement or overdevelopment of the breasts in men).

Underage Cosmetic Surgery – Proper Research is Needed

Underage patients that want to have cosmetic surgery need to perform proper research to make sure the doctor they have in mind is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). The doctor should be a qualified, experienced, and knowledgeable medical professional with a history of successful results. The doctor should also be able to show examples of “before and after” photos of previous patients so the underage patient can have a better idea of the type of results they can expect to see after the surgery.

- MA


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