Should teenage girls under the age of eighteen be allowed to undergo plastic surgery? According to recent statistics, rhinoplasty was performed on nearly 35,000 patients between the ages of thirteen and nineteen in 2009. The procedure accounted for nearly fifty percent of all cosmetic surgical procedures performed on this age group. If all cosmetic procedures like chemical peels, Microdermabrasion and Botox are included, the number shoots up to 336,000–up over fifty percent in one year. Reconstructive procedures correct defects on the face or body.
These include physical birth defects like cleft lips and palates and ear deformities, traumatic injuries like those from dog bites or burns, or the aftermath of disease treatments like rebuilding a woman’s breast after surgery for breast cancer. Cosmetic procedures alter a part of the body that the person is not satisfied with. Common cosmetic procedures include making the breasts larger (augmentation mammoplasty) or smaller (reduction mammoplasty), reshaping the nose (rhinoplasty), and removing pockets of fat from specific spots on the body (liposuction).
Some cosmetic procedures are not even surgical in the way that most people think of surgery — that is, cutting and stitching. For example, the use of special lasers to remove unwanted hair and sanding skin to improve severe scarring are two such treatments. Some teens want plastic surgery so badly that they will travel all the way to New Zeeland to get it. Breast augmentation costs about $5,500, with around $2,000 travel in New Zeeland. While in America a breast augmentation can cost up to $13,000. (Fertman-Ryan).
There are many people who object to this topic and believe teenage girls should not be allowed to undergo plastic surgery if they are under the age of eighteen. There are many risks that come along with plastic surgery that can put teenage girls in danger. Plastic surgery can cause permanent numbness, infections, blood clots, and even death. Doctors urge teens to avoid plastic surgery during this time of development. Recovery from plastic surgery is far more painful than what is seen in a one hour show, and the operations involve life and death risks–with no “body- back” guarantees.
Dimples, puckers and other irregularities can happen because of a doctor’s error, or an allergic reaction can happen within the body. These irregularities can be permanent and can be an unwanted flaw for life. The anesthesia dangers include blood clots, heart attacks, brain damage, stroke, and even death. There is also risk of scars not healing, so teens could end up having a disfigurement due to the plastic surgery (Fertman-Ryan). Some teens have in mind an unattainable image that will leave them never satisfied. “Sometimes teens see something that isn’t there, some imperfection that isn’t real,” said Dr. Kenneth Arthur of the Cosmetic Surgery Center (Cassidy). Teens are usually trying to solve a deeper issue, like low self esteem or not fitting in. Those problems usually cannot be solved by changing ones appearance (Fertman-Ryan). “The problem with a casual attitude toward cosmetic surgery is that it can lead to never feeling satisfied with one’s physical appearance,” said Fugen Neziroglu of the Bio-Behavioral Institute (Sinco-Kelleher). During the teenage years, girls are still growing and have not matured emotionally, physically, or mentally.
Teenage brains are very impulsive and it is not a good time in life to make a permanent decision. Breasts do not fully developed until around age seventeen. If teens get implants when they are young, they could end up with unexpectedly large breasts by the time they are a college freshman. During the teenagers years girls are still depositing fat. Many changes seen with liposuction will be reversed with time (Jones). Teenagers should not have to feel that they need to look like the few girls in the media that are seen as perfect.
Reality shows like The Swan and Extreme Makeover make plastic surgery look as casual as getting hair extensions or whitening teeth. Teenagers need to know reality TV is seldom reality. Television and other media not only set the standards of beauty, they give teenagers ideas about how to attain those standards. Plastic surgery gets a lot of attention in American pop culture and girls are constantly being influenced whether they know it or not (Fertman-Ryan). On the other hand advocates say that teenagers under the age of eighteen should be allowed to undergo plastic surgery.
A teen’s appearance is how they determine their social acceptability. They really feel it’s necessary to look a certain way or life will be hell for them (Fertman-Ryan). In our society self esteem is essential. Rather than force a girl to remain self conscious about that imperfect nose, that girl should have the option of plastic surgery. Supporters say that teenage girls could enjoy a huge boost in their self-esteem by undergoing plastic surgery (Sinco-Kelleher). Often, girls who believe their appearance is flawed become socially withdrawn and deeply unhappy; plastic surgery can help those girls break out of their shells.
Plastic surgery can change how teens project themselves to others (Altman). Plastic surgery can open doors and create opportunities for many girls. The benefit of plastic surgery at a young age is that it can increase self image, which results in increased self confidence. Plastic surgery can help girls evolve into social butterflies. They feel they can do things that they have never considered before (Fertman-Ryan). Sometimes girls cannot shop at certain stores because their breasts are too large. Victoria’s Secret does not carry any size over a Double D.
The first thing many girls do after a breast reduction is go and buy that bikini they have always wanted (Sinco-Kelleher). Plastic surgery is a good experience for most who decide to do it. “I had a lot of areas done at once—stomach, hips, outer and inner thighs, but even with the pain it was worth it to me. After the swelling went down, I was like, ‘Oh my God! I see me waist! ’ After a month, I wore bikinis for the first time. I’d definitely do it all over again. ” In a way, she did. Julie Torrent from Wisconsin later had her arms and back done (Fertman-Ryan). It’s no different than kids getting braces for crooked teeth,” says plastic surgeon Dr. Sam Rizk, who recently preformed plastic surgery on a fifteen year old girl who felt the need for a smaller nose. He adds that as long as he knows the motivation of the teen the surgery is acceptable (“When is it OK…”). Although those who object have proven there are many risks to plastic surgery, supporters say teens have access to enough information today that they can decide what’s in their best interests, and they know plastic surgery doesn’t always turn out perfect.
If the research is done and the kids are one hundred percent sure, then it’s their decision (Altman). Those who say that teenagers are not emotionally mature enough to have plastic surgery should know that emotional maturity is not directly linked to age. Doctors frequently see young teens who come in more mature and better prepared than many adults (Sinco-Kelleher). Parents and Doctors should be asking questions. Is the teen mentally and physically mature enough? Has she considered the side effects? Is she able to handle the results if something goes wrong?
For these reasons, cosmetic surgery should be available to everyone (Altman). The opposing side sates that even though teens can use plastic surgery to help self confidence issues part of growing up is learning to deal with the “ugly duckling stage” which almost all girls go through. That’s when self-acceptance is learned. If teens have plastic surgery rather than go through that stage and learn to deal, they really won’t be prepared for the real world. Most imperfections that teenagers want to change they will soon outgrow (Fertman-Ryan).
Although it is true emotional maturity plays a big role in the decision to get plastic surgery, physical maturity should be considered as well. Many cosmetic procedures, such as breast augmentation have a restricted age limit of 18 because saline is only approved for women over that age. Many hormones during puberty can cause reactions with saline that could have bad side effects and possibly cause life threatening infections (Donovan). Teenage plastic surgery is an issue that can have both positive and negative effects. There are many health risks that can even lead to death.
Teenagers are likely to not get what they expected and might be left unsatisfied. Plastic surgery can help self esteem and fix deformities. Plastic surgery can create more opportunities for girls when it comes to relationships, jobs, and clothing. Plastic surgery can be a life changing opportunity for girls that will forever change how they portray themselves to others. There are many risks involved and every potential patient should be told all of these risks. Maturity level plays a big factor in whether or not a teen should be able to get plastic surgery or not.
If a girl wants it for the wrong reasons it could leave her very unhappy with the results (American Society of Plastic Surgeons). The American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS) has no formal position on plastic surgery for teenagers. As with any surgery, parental consent is required for all plastic surgery procedures performed on teens younger than 18. The ASPS advises parents to evaluate the teenager’s physical and emotional maturity and believes that individual cases merit careful evaluation under the guidance of a plastic surgeon certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery.
Doctors and Parents should have many serious discussions with the teenager wanting surgery. The Doctor should have the right to refuse the surgery to anyone that he/she thinks is not ready. If the Doctor feels the teenager is ready for the surgery then it is because she initiated the request, has realistic goals, and sufficient maturity. If the parent is not comfortable with the situation it should not be allowed. Plastic surgery will have an impact on the teenager’s entire family so it is a decision that should be taken into careful consideration (American Society of Plastic Surgeons).
Altman, Elana. “Are these beauty trends safe for teens? ” The Patriot – News 27 Jul 2010, ProQuest Newsstand, ProQuest. Web. 29 Nov. 2010. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. “Plastic Surgery For Teenagers Briefing Paper. ” Thousands of Member Surgeons. 2011. Web. 01 Apr. 2011. <http://www. plasticsurgery. org/news-and-resources/briefing-papers/plastic-surgery-for-teenagers. html>. Cassidy, Suzanne. “Teens, Young Adults Cut Into Cosmetic-Surgery Statistics :Defining Beauty Breast Wishes Parental Pressure? For The Sport Of It Males Do It, Too. Sunday News 24 Jan. 2010, ProQuest Newsstand, ProQuest. Web. 7 Dec. 2010. Donovan, Elizabeth. “Teenage Girls and Plastic Surgery | Parenting Pink. ” Parenting Pink! 04 Oct. 2009. Web. 01 Apr. 2011. <http://parentingpink. com/2009/10/teen-plastic-surgery/>. Fertman-Ryan, Sandy. “About Face: More and More Teen Girls Are Willing to Do Almost Anything to Look Good, including Going under the Knife. But with All the Possible Dangers Involved, Both Physical and Emotional, Is Plastic Surgery Really Such a Smart Move? | Girls’ Life | Find Articles at BNET. Find Articles at BNET | News Articles, Magazine Back Issues ; Reference Articles on All Topics. Mar. 2005. Web. 02 Jan. 2011. ;http://findarticles. com/p/articles/mi_m0IBX/is_4_11/ai_n9487247/;. Jones, Bridget. “Teens eye up Asia for plastic surgery. ” Sunday Star – Times 4 Jul 2010, ProQuest Newsstand, ProQuest. Web. 29 Nov. 2010. Sinco Kelleher, Jennifer. “Teens and plastic surgery. ” McClatchy – Tribune Business News 20 April 2008 ProQuest Newsstand, ProQuest. Web. 7 Dec. 2010. “When is it OK for Teens to Get Plastic Surgery? ” Parentdish [AOL – BLOG] 30 March 2010 Discovery, ProQuest. Web. 29 Nov. 2010.