Growing up in an age of selfies and social media means there’s more pressure on today’s teenagers to “look good” than ever before.
If your child has started talking about wanting plastic surgery, this article will help you discuss the subject with them.
In the US, around 230,000 cosmetic plastic surgeries are carried out on patients aged 13 to 19 annually. Nose reshaping is the most popular procedure, accounting for 14% of total procedures on teens. This is followed by breast surgery, male breast reduction and ear surgery.
When is cosmetic plastic surgery considered for children?
While it is usually preferable to wait until adulthood for plastic surgery, most surgeons will consider it on a case-by-case basis. In situations where a teen’s health is being impacted, for example where large breasts are causing back pain or a nasal deformity is obstructing breathing, the benefits may well exceed the risks.
However, doctors will also consider psychological motives. For example, if a child is being bullied because of certain physical feature, then surgery could be beneficial to their mental health. Equally, if they are so self-conscious about the way they look it is making it difficult for them to live a normal life, surgical intervention could be in their best interest.
What are the minimum ages for procedures?
If your child wants rhinoplasty, it is recommended to wait until nasal growth is completed. This occurs earlier in females (age 15/16) than in males (age 16-18). There are exceptions to this rule, like if a child has a deformity such as cleft lip and cleft palate.
Breast surgery of any type ideally shouldn’t be performed until a female is 21-years-old, once breast development has finished. However, in some cases, a breast reduction might be performed as young as 15. It is important to be aware that patients who have breast reductions carried out before maturity might experience further breast growth.
Boys with gynecomastia (over-development of male breasts) can have male breast reduction from a minimum of 13-years-old.
Breast augmentation is generally not deemed suitable for teenagers, except in the case of severe breast asymmetry or a deformity of the chest. Silicone implants are only approved for use in patients 22 years and older.
Ear correction surgery (otoplasty) can be performed from five-years-old, as ear growth is completed close to this age.
What procedures should teens not have?
Unless performed as part of a breast reduction surgery, it is not recommended that a teenager undergo liposuction. This is because body weight continues to change during adolescence and hormones drive the laying down of fat in areas across the body. Liposuction should not be considered until a stable, healthy body weight has been reached.
Non-surgical cosmetic procedures, such as Botox and lip filler injections, should also not be performed on children under 18 years of age. While these procedures are frequently performed on adults with minimal side effects, there has been no research carried out to ensure they are safe for adolescents.
What other factors should be considered?
A plastic surgeon will take a number of things into consideration when assessing your child’s suitability for treatment. Firstly, they’ll want to hear from your child the reasons why they want surgery. This will include their expectations for the results of the surgery.
The surgeon will determine your child’s emotional maturity and help them understand things such as the risks and limitations of the surgery and how extensive the recovery process might be.
They will also want to hear your views as the parent or guardian and, if you decided to go ahead, will require you to sign a consent form.
Choosing a surgeon for your teen’s plastic surgery
When selecting a surgeon for your child, first and foremost, ensure they are registered with the certifying body in their country of practice. Ask how much experience they have in the procedure your child desires and whether they have performed it on a minor before.
As well as surgical expertise, your chosen surgeon should be able to demonstrate empathy with younger patients, be able to communicate with them effectively and make them feel comfortable. Finally, don’t rush into a decision - teenagers can be fickle. Give them plenty of time after the consultation to decide if this is what they really want to do.
To book a consultation for your teen or request more information, contact Ocean Clinic Marbella via our contact form or call 951 775 518.