According to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, over 60% of surgeons reported an increase in cosmetic surgery for younger patients in 2015. The reports suggest that the rise of “selfie mania” and the “Kardashian effect” may be partly to blame.
As a parent, you’ve most likely experienced your children being insecure about their appearance. As plastic surgery for adults has become more widely accepted, less expensive and generally less invasive, more teens are interested in exploring these options too.
Poor body image accounts for a significant percentage of teen plastic surgery procedures. In a survey conducted by the Dove Self-Esteem Fund, about 70 percent of teenage girls felt that their bodies did not live up to accepted beauty standards. In contrast, just 10 percent of girls surveyed were completely satisfied with their bodies. Numerous studies have shown that these views are rooted in media pressure. Many young girls feel that their bodies must match up with the bodies of popular female celebrities.
So what do you do if your teen wants to have plastic surgery? We asked Dr. Robert Bentley of Plastic Surgery Associates in Montgomery his advice, and here’s what he shared.
“Find out why,” he said. “It’s important to understand why they want to have the procedure. For example, your teen may want a breast reduction to relieve back pain, or liposuction because they are teased for being overweight. Everyone has a feature that they don’t care for but surgery is never the first option.”
He suggested that before you give a flat “no,” consider a consultation with a plastic surgeon. “We can assess and advise non-surgical options, test if there is an underlying cause like a hormonal imbalance, and recommend counseling if there is a psychological disorder, such as body dismorphic disorder,” he said.
One of the concerns is operating on adolescents before their bodies are finished forming. And most plastic surgeons, including Dr. Bentley, follow strict age requirements when it comes to breast augmentation. “We typically will not do breast augmentations on patients under the age of 18, unless there is a birth defect,” he said.
However, Dr. Bentley and others routinely help many teens with rhinoplasty, otoplasty, breast reductions and gynecomastia. “In the case of breast reductions, many of these children refrain from physical exercise like cheerleading and/or dance line and suffer from neck, back and shoulder pain,” he said. “Young men may have additional breast tissue that embarrasses them in gym class and keeps them from swimming or even going to the beach. In these cases, the techniques have improved and have resulted in minimal incisions and shorter recovery times. It makes a real difference in their lives.”
Along with rhinoplasty for a deviated septum, these conditions are usually covered by most insurance plans. “But as with any surgery, there is always risk, so again, this should not be the first option,” Dr. Bentley said.