Is A Nose Job A No-No For Your Kid? Parental Tips On Teen Plastic Surgery
Plastic surgery in the past was an option most often associated with adults, especially older adults, who desired to improve their appearance. But the number of teenagers undergoing plastic surgery is trending upward.
Nearly 230,000 cosmetic procedures were performed on patients from the ages of 13 to 19 in 2017, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Doctors say part of the reason is due to the social media explosion, but they add that it’s also to fix a feature that makes teens a target of bullying, or to address a health need.
Parents can be faced with a quandary: Is the type of plastic surgery their teen wants appropriate or safe for their age?
“It’s very important that a parent know their child’s motive for plastic surgery and that they consult with the surgeon to ensure they are age-appropriate for the particular procedure,” says Dr. Dennis Schimpf, a plastic surgeon, author of Finding Beauty: Think, See And Feel Beautiful, and founder of Sweetgrass Plastic Surgery (www.sweetgrassplasticsurgery.com). “The family needs to be aware of the risks involved and be honest about why they are seeking the surgery. Is it because their child wants to look like a movie or TV star, compete with their appearance on social media, or because they’re getting teased at school?”
“Parents and the surgeon must determine the psychological and social impact the teen is feeling and factor that into the equation. There are procedures that are very helpful to teens from that perspective, but there are others that don’t have enough research to be proven age-appropriate.”
Some plastic surgeries or appearance procedures teens should stay away from, Dr. Schimpf says, include breast enlargements, liposuction and injectables (such as Botox or fillers for lip or cheek enhancement). Dr. Schimpf reviews some other procedures for teens that may be acceptable and helpful depending on the situation.
Rhinoplasty. This is nose reshaping, which is the most common plastic surgery for teens. It’s often performed due to a child being teased at school for having a big nose. Most doctors recommend waiting on surgery until the teenager’s nasal growth is complete, which is usually between the ages of 16-18 in males and 15-16 in females. “This surgery may provide a major improvement for teens, helping them psychologically as well as with confidence in their appearance,” Dr. Schimpf says.
Breast reduction. Performed on teen girls to take away back and neck pain. Doctors emphasize the importance of waiting to do the surgery until the patient has finished breast development, which can be as late as 19 years old.
Otoplasty. This is performed for those with ear deformities or large ears, another subject of school mocking. The problem can be corrected by surgery early, sometimes at age 5, because the ear is almost fully grown at that point.
Noninvasive procedures. Common procedures requested by teens include skin procedures such as microdermabrasion, laser skin resurfacing and chemical peels. “These improve the overall appearance of the skin, like diminishing acne scars,” Dr. Schimpf says.
“A lot of parents are scared of plastic surgery and the messages it sends to young people,” Dr. Schimpf says. “Being open and honest with a board- certified, credible surgeon is always beneficial. And, any conscious surgeon will listen to parents' concerns regarding the well-being of their child."
About Dennis Schimpf, MD, MBA, FACS
Dennis Schimpf (www.sweetgrassplasticsurgery.com) is the author of Finding Beauty: Think, See and Feel Beautiful, and the founder of Sweetgrass Plastic Surgery, a multi-faceted practice focusing almost exclusively on cosmetic plastic surgery of the face and body. He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons (FACS), as well as a member of the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) and the American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS).