Are Teenagers Really Getting Plastic Surgery in Pittsburgh?
It’s not at all uncommon for teenagers to be unhappy, at least in some way, with their appearance. With the hormonal changes that occur during this stage of life often comes a period of awkward body image changes and concerns. Most adults can even think back to their teenage years and reflect on how difficult self-esteem and body image problems were to navigate at that age.
The media have extensively covered the cosmetic procedures of high-profile teens like Bella Hadid and Kylie Jenner. These teens embraced plastic surgery (or other cosmetic procedures) to ease the effects of adolescence. What implications does that have for the relationship between teens and plastic surgery? How does one distinguish between an appropriate age for plastic surgery and an inappropriate age?
How Young Is Too Young for Plastic Surgery?
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), more than 63,000 surgical cosmetic procedures were performed on teens (ages of 13 to 19) in 2013, and over 155,000 minimally invasive cosmetic procedures were performed on members of that same age group. Of course, for those under the age of 18, parental consent is a requirement before any cosmetic procedure may be performed, but statistics suggest that many parents are consenting to these procedures for their underage children.
The question of “how young is too young” is admittedly highly subjective and can vary greatly depending on the specific circumstances. But as the ASPS emphasizes, while certain cosmetic procedures may be beneficial for some teens experiencing severe self-esteem issues related to their appearance, it’s crucial that the teen fully understands the ins and outs of the procedure.
According to the ASPS, teens and parents are cautioned “to keep in mind that plastic surgery is real surgery, with great benefits, but also carries some risks. Teens should have realistic expectations about plastic surgery and what it can do for them. In addition, certain milestones in growth and physical maturity must be achieved before undergoing plastic surgery.” So while there may not be a clear black-and-white answer as to the “right” age for plastic surgery, the most important thing to consider is that both the teen and the parent must fully understand the potential risks and benefits involved in the procedure. (The American Society of Plastic Surgeons)
Which Procedures Are Teens Getting?
The ASPS reports that the most common cosmetic procedures with teens are acne and acne scar treatment, breast augmentation, male breast reduction, and rhinoplasty. Rhinoplasty (nose reshaping) is the most common. Breast reduction for both males and females accounts for a significant number of surgeries. Because many teens have severe acne breakouts that cause extremely low self-esteem as well as social withdrawal, turning to laser treatments to correct the skin condition may be beneficial for both males and females. Similarly, teen girls who experience self-esteem and body image concerns due to asymmetry in their breasts or breasts that never fully developed may benefit from a breast augmentation.
Teens and parents, however, should maintain realistic expectations about what plastic surgery can and cannot do. While a breast augmentation, for example, may help a teen to regain self-confidence and develop a positive body image, the procedure shouldn’t be seen as a magic wand that will eliminate all underlying body image issues. (The American Society of Plastic Surgeons)
Teen Plastic Surgery in the Limelight
On the other hand, a growing trend in plastic surgery for teens has been in large part due to the social media coverage of teen celebrities like Bella Hadid and Kylie Jenner. In the case of Bella Hadid, who may have turned to plastic surgery to change the appearance of her nose, the teen model has spoken out about the difficulties of being constantly compared to her older sister, Victoria’s Secret model Gigi Hadid. While there is certainly truth to the fact that high-profile teens experience an added amount of pressure to look the part, many experts argue that the millions of teens who look up to celebrities may be getting the wrong idea about plastic surgery. (New York Post)
Perhaps one of the most discussed aspects of plastic surgery trends in teens is demonstrated by Kylie Jenner’s lip injections. The controversy is twofold: firstly, the question of benefits versus risks exists, but secondly, an ethical question concerning parental consent also seems to be an issue. According to an article published in the LA Times, Kris Jenner, Kylie’s mother, didn’t actually give her permission to get lip injections, although Kylie was only 17 at the time. This incident may open the door for a larger discussion of the necessity of teen plastic surgery and the importance of parental involvement in the decision. (LA Times)
The Bottom Line
There’s no question that teens are getting plastic surgery in Pittsburgh and the rest of the country and even the world. But at the heart of the matter is the question of where to draw the line between helping teens learn to psychologically cope with societal pressures to look a certain way, and when to allow cosmetic procedures to intervene. In truth, there’s no clear right or wrong answer to this question, as many teens really can benefit from certain procedures offering results that nonsurgical treatments just can’t. That said, the most important thing to consider for both teens and adults considering plastic surgery is that while it can boost your self-confidence, it can’t solve underlying psychological issues that may still exist post-surgery.
At Premier Plastic Surgery & Dermatology, our board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Brian Heil is committed to providing detailed and extremely knowledgeable professional advice when it comes to whether or not an individual is a good candidate for a plastic surgery procedure. If you think you or your teenager may benefit from cosmetic surgery, please feel free to contact Dr. Heil at 724-264-3608 to schedule a consultation.