Plastic surgery can be a hot button issue for some. It becomes more controversial when people start discussing whether it is an option for people under age 20. While some will remain adamantly against surgery for teens, there is room for a bit of flexibility on the issue. Some procedures, such as ear surgery, are often recommended if not for teenagers, than for younger children, since the ears are still very flexible and able to respond to surgery.
Whether plastic surgery is the right choice for your teen depends on what he or she wants to have performed and why. It also depends not only on your teen’s chronological age, but also one his or her maturity level.
Depends on the Reasons
There are many reasons why a teenager would want to have surgery, and some of them are better than others. The same is true for adults. For example, an adult who wants to have a procedure performed in an attempt to save his or her marriage or to win approval from someone might not want the surgery for the best reasons. Having the procedure done won’t necessarily help a marriage or increase a person’s approval rating.
One reason why a teenager might want surgery that is usually a red flag for parents and surgeons is to make him or herself resemble another person. While a procedure such as rhinoplasty will change a person’s looks, it won’t necessarily transform him or her into a completely new person. During a consultation, a surgeon will usually ask questions to find out what’s driving the teenager towards surgery and offer his advice to the teen and his or her parents based on what he or she says.
Another reason why a teen might see a plastic surgeon is because his or her parents want him or her to have the surgery. Usually, unless a teenager is the one requesting a procedure, it’s not a good idea to move forward. If a parent is pressuring a teen to have a surgery he or she doesn’t want, it can have a lasting, negative impact on the teen’s self esteem and create a lot of tension in the parent and child relationship. Most surgeons won’t recommend a procedure unless it’s clear that it’s something the teenager genuinely wants.
Depends on the Procedure
In some cases, the procedure a teenager is considering plays a big part in determining whether it’s appropriate at the moment or not. Some surgeries aren’t recommended or approved for people under a certain age, while others are best performed as soon in life as possible.
Ear surgery is one example. The procedure involves “pinning” back a person’s ears, so that they are less prominent. The surgery can be performed on adults, but there are several advantages to performing it early in life. For one thing, the cartilage in the ears is a lot more flexible the younger a person is, making the surgery easier to perform and the results easier to maintain. For another thing, having the surgery early, before a child enters school, even, can significantly reduce the amount of teasing or bullying that child experiences because of the size of his or her ears.
Earlobe repair is another surgery that can make sense for a teenager. The surgery can repair torn earlobes or reduce the size of the holes created by wearing ear gauges for years. Some teenagers might like the idea of have multiple piercings, wearing heavy earrings, or stretching their earlobes, but then decide that it’s a look they are over by the time college rolls around.
Rhinoplasty may also be performed on teenagers, provided a few conditions are met. Unlike ear surgery, rhinoplasty is best performed once a teen’s nose is fully grown, which might not be until he or she is 15 or 16-years-old, or even older, in some cases. Having the surgery too early can mean that the results are undone if the nose continues to grow.
Another surgery that should be postponed until a person is older is breast augmentation. The FDA hasn’t approved either saline or silicone implants for younger teens. Saline implants are approved for people over age 18, while silicone implants are approved for those over age 22.
Depends on the Teen
Another big consideration when it comes to plastic surgery is the teenager him or herself. Some teenagers are considerably less mature than others and might not be ready to handle the process of going through surgery. It can be difficult to determine if a teenager is mentally and emotionally ready for surgery. A few things to look at are the teen’s mood. Teenagers who have mood swings or who change their mind a lot might not be quite ready to handle the permanence of a procedure, for example. The teen’s mental and physical health is also a big consideration.
At the Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute near Washington, DC, Dr. George Bitar offers parents and teenagers guidance on various types of plastic surgery and can help you decide if it’s the right option. To schedule a consultation, call (703) 206-0506 today.
George Bitar, MD, FACS is an award-winning, board-certified cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon, the Founder and Medical Director of Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute in Virginia. He specializes in the latest surgical and minimally invasive techniques to scar management and reduction. Dr. Bitar is involved in groundbreaking research and education in plastic surgery and has authored numerous articles, abstracts, and chapters.