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Teenage cosmetic surgery: Yay or nay?

In the age of selfies, an increasing number of adolescents are demanding plastic surgery. Should you allow your teen to undergo the knife?

Does your teen hate their large ears, crooked nose, or large breasts? Before even contemplating their pleas for plastic surgery, it’s essential that parents understand the many risks associated with plastic surgery – both in the short and long term.

The rise and fall of plastic surgery

Once reserved for older women, cosmetic surgery is becoming a popular choice for teens. A 15-year-old British girl made international headlines when she opted to receive breast implants for her 16th birthday. Her parents backed her, but the doctors disagreed and told them she must wait till she became 18 years old.

Plastic surgery comes with several risks, including an unexpected reaction to anaesthesia, infections, scarring, excess bleeding, blood clots, nerve damage, fluid buildup, and separation at the incision site.

Should cosmetic surgery on teens be prohibited?

According to Dr Gabrielle Caswell, president of The Cosmetic Physicians Society of Australia, children should not have cosmetic or surgical operations of any type unless there are compelling medical or psychiatric reasons.

Between the ages of 13 and 19, much importance is placed on peers and what others think of you. It is also a period when factors like not being part of the popular crowd, changes in financial position, and divorce can negatively impact a teenager’s self-esteem. Therefore, parents need to identify whether their teen wants surgery to satisfy their own interests or another person’s expectations, such as a friend or significant other.

According to data, the following are among the most common surgical operations done on children under the age of 18: Otoplasty, Rhinoplasty, Breast Reduction, Breast Asymmetry Correction, and Gynecomastia.

Some studies demonstrate health improvements in teens who receive breast reduction surgery to alleviate physical strain, such as chronic back pain. However, the Food and Drug Administration has not authorised breast augmentation for patients under 18.

Frequently, teens who desire cosmetic breast augmentation surgery are under the legal age for medical consent and must obtain parental authorisation for the treatment.

Before making a decision

Follow these recommendations before contemplating letting your teen have plastic surgery:

  • Your teen must initiate the request (rather than, for example, a family member) and have reasonable aims and expectations.
  • Speak to an experienced and board-certified plastic surgeon before making any decisions.
  • The operation should be performed in a recognised surgical institution equipped to address uncommon complications.
  • You and your teen need to understand and agree to the procedure’s contents and possible complications.

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