Teens and Plastic Surgery
Statistics gathered over the last several years indicate a decrease in the overall number of cosmetic (aesthetic) surgeries of teenagers (those 18 and younger) having cosmetic surgery. In 2012, nonsurgical procedures including laser hair removal, microdermabrasion and chemical peels were most popular according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). The most frequently performed surgical procedure for this age group in 2012 was cosmetic ear surgery (otoplasty). Most experts agree that for appropriately selected teenage patients, cosmetic plastic surgery can have a positive impact on physical and emotional development.
Evaluating Teenagers for Cosmetic Plastic Surgery
As the premier society of American Board of Plastic Surgery certified surgeons specializing in cosmetic surgery, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery offers these guidelines for evaluating teenagers who are considering cosmetic plastic surgery:
- Assess physical maturity: Operating on a feature that has not yet fully developed could interfere with its growth, and continued growth could negate the benefits of surgery in later years.
- Explore emotional maturity and expectations: As with any patient, the young person should appreciate the benefits and limitations of the proposed surgery, and have realistic expectations.
- Check credentials: State laws permit any licensed physician to call themselves a “plastic” or “cosmetic” surgeon, even if not trained as a surgeon. Look for certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. If the doctor operates in an ambulatory or office-based facility, the facility should be accredited. Additionally, the surgeon should have operating privileges in an accredited hospital for the same procedure being considered.
- Explore risks and expected recovery times: Teens and their parents should understand the risks of surgery, postoperative restrictions on activity, and typical recovery times.
Common Cosmetic Plastic Surgical Procedures for Teens
The following are among the most common surgical procedures performed on those 18 years of age and younger, according to ASAPS statistics:
- Otoplasty: Ear surgery was the most popular surgical procedure in 2012 for teens. Ear surgery often is recommended for children as they near total ear development at age five or six. Correction of the ears prior to the child entering school helps eliminate potential psychological trauma from the teasing of classmates
- Rhinoplasty: Nose reshaping is the most requested aesthetic surgical procedure by teens. It can be performed when the nose has completed 90 percent of its growth, which can occur as early as age 13 or 14 in girls and 15 or 16 in boys.
- Breast reduction: Breast reduction is frequently performed on girls with overly large breasts that may cause back and shoulder pain, as well as restrict physical activity. Breast reduction usually is delayed until the breasts have reached full development.
- Correction of breast asymmetry: Surgery can be performed when one breast significantly differs from the other either in size or shape. Except in cases of asymmetry and post trauma reconstruction, federal regulations prohibit breast implants for those under 18.
- Treatment of Gynecomastia: In some teenage boys, excessive breast development (gynecomastia) can become a significant psychosocial problem. Excess tissue can be removed to achieve a more masculine body contour.
Trends in Teen Cosmetic Surgery
"Trend" reports in the media of a significant increase in teen cosmetic surgery are not supported by authoritative statistics compiled by ASAPS:
For those 18 and under:
Ten Years Ago: there were 220,077 procedures in 2002 representing 3.2% of the total;
Five Years Ago: there were 178,041 procedures in 2006 representing 1.6% of the total;
Last Year: there were 131,877 procedures in 2011 representing 1.4% of the total;
This Year: there were 130,502 procedures in 2012 representing 1.3% of the total;
- The number of lipoplasty procedures performed on those 18 and younger has remained low, reflecting careful patient selection among this group: ASAPS statistics show that the number of procedures has decreased from 2,504 in 1997 to 2,253 in 2012.
- In 2012, there were 3,576 breast augmentation procedures performed on women 18 and under, 1.1% percent of the total number of breast augmentation procedures. The reasons for surgery were:
52% Cosmetic Bilateral Breast Augmentation;
15% Severe Asymmetry;
12% Poland's Syndrome (congenital absent breast);
10% Tubular Breast Deformity;
9% Congenital Micromastia (severe underdevelopment);
ASAPS is the authoritative source for statistics on cosmetic surgery, which are available at http://www.surgery.org/media/statistics. The Society has surgeon spokespersons that can discuss issues related to cosmetic plastic surgery for teenagers and can be contacted through the ASAPS Communications Office at firstname.lastname@example.org
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body. ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.
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