Ah, the angst of the teen years, where self-image becomes the focus of both genders and even the tiniest perceived flaws can grow to huge proportions. Feeling good about yourself during the teen years can be difficult, especially with the media continually bombarding teens with images of so-called “perfect” faces and bodies. So it’s not surprising that a lot of teens are turning to cosmetic surgery to correct some of the less-than-ideal aspects of their own faces and bodies.
In some cases, cosmetic surgery can provide a great solution for teens looking to correct issues that would continue to have an impact on them as they get older – for instance, removing acne scars or addressing a pair of Clark Gable-esque ears. In these cases, having these “flaws” corrected can result in long-lasting improvements in self-esteem that can have a significant impact on quality of life, both during the teen years and beyond. But for teens looking for “quick fixes” to help them “fit in,” cosmetic surgery may not be the best choice.
Because teens’ perceptions – both of themselves and of what’s important to them – can change daily, thanks to their still-growing brains, it’s critical to make sure that teens who are interested in surgery have realistic expectations about surgical outcomes. The American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS) says teens must demonstrate emotional maturity and an understanding of both the limitations of surgery and the risks surgery entails. What’s more, because the body is still growing, the ASPS cautions that specific milestones in growth and physical maturity must occur before surgery is even a possibility.
According to the ASPS, the best outcomes may be achieved when:
- The teenager asks for surgery and continues to ask over time.
- The teen has realistic goals for their surgery and does not have unrealistic expectations about what surgery will achieve (for instance, wanting surgery to become more popular).
- The teen is mature enough to undergo surgery and the discomfort which can follow; in most cases, teens who are prone to significant mood swings may not be considered ideal candidates for surgery, and allowing time for the teen to mature likely will result in better outcomes.
There’s no doubt that cosmetic surgery can help many teens feel much better about themselves and lead much happier lives, and teen patients are not uncommon: The ASPS reports that in 2010, nearly 219,000 cosmetic surgery procedures were performed on patients between 13 and 19 years of age.
The best course of action for parents: For teens who are sufficiently mature, consider the potential impact of the surgery on the teen’s own self-esteem and also consider whether the issue they want to have addressed by surgery would remain an issue into adulthood. A highly skilled cosmetic surgeon is also a great source of information; discussing issues and concerns with the surgeon well in advance of any procedure is important for achieving the best outcome possible.
To get a better understanding of the typical results that a patient can expect from cosmetic surgery, please see some of our before and after photos.