It’s no secret that the teen years can be challenging for a whole host of reasons. Add in a changing body and the prevalence of social media sharing these days, and it’s easy to see why many teenagers are looking for ways to feel better about themselves and their overall appearance. Some may consider plastic surgery or other cosmetic treatments as an option for correcting any perceived imperfections. Others may have unique health needs that plastic surgery can address. But is plastic surgery ever an appropriate option for teens?
In short, yes, it can be. At Plastic Surgery Group of Memphis, we believe that a teen’s motive for seeking treatment is essential in determining if they are an appropriate candidate for a desired procedure. To do this, we provide a careful and extensive evaluation. This evaluation will take into account
- the patient’s age
- parental consent
- the physical and emotional maturity of the patient
- the patient’s desires and goals for the procedure
- the risks involved
- the recovery process
- the limitations and potential complications of the procedure.
Although teenagers can be candidates for plastic surgery and other cosmetic treatments, it’s not always the best option. Some teens won’t be physically mature enough for certain surgeries, while others may be lacking the emotional maturity needed to undergo an elective surgical procedure and recovery. Additionally, not every plastic surgery procedure is appropriate for teens. There are, however, a number of procedures that can be performed successfully on a teen patient after determining they are a good candidate.
Rhinoplasty (nose reshaping)
Nose reshaping can straighten the bridge, remove a noticeable bump, reshape the tip, and even open breathing passages. We generally do not recommend rhinoplasty until nasal growth is complete, around age 16 in females and 18 in males. In some cases, such as a child with a cleft lip, we may consider performing rhinoplasty at a younger age. This procedure accounts for about half of all plastic surgery procedures performed on teen patients.
Otoplasty is an ear reshaping procedure used to correct ears that stick out further than a patient likes, or those that are shaped or positioned abnormally. By “pinning back” the ears, we can reshape or resize them, make them more proportionate to the head and face, and improve their symmetry. Otoplasty also allows us to reconstruct or repair the external ear if needed. This procedure can be performed any time after about the age of five.
For teenage girls with very large breasts, a reduction procedure can provide relief by alleviating physical problems like breast, neck, back, and shoulder pain. In fact, insurance reimbursement is often possible with this particular surgery! A breast reduction can also increase confidence and improve self-esteem. For the best results, we generally recommend this procedure be done when a teen has reached skeletal maturity–in other words, the bones and breasts have stopped developing. This is usually around age 17-18.
Many teens we encounter seeking a breast augmentation have a condition called breast asymmetry, with one breast larger than the other. There can sometimes be as much as a full cup size or more in difference. Although it’s fairly common for one breast to be bigger than the other as development occurs during puberty, any asymmetry that remains past a certain point will usually be permanent. If the breasts have not become relatively equal in size by the end of puberty (around 16-17 years of age), a saline-filled implant can be placed in the smaller breast to achieve symmetry.
Acne scar treatment
While active acne eruptions are often able to be controlled with the proper use of prescription drugs, teens may still be left with noticeable acne scarring. Plastic surgeons can improve these scars by using skin resurfacing or laser treatments. At Plastic Surgery Group of Memphis, we offer:
- chemical peels that will clean blemished skin and restore smoothness by removing the dull, damaged surface layers
- the Lumenis M22 and Lumenis Resurfx laser treatments to reduce the overall appearance of acne scars
Male Breast Reduction
Large breasts in teen boys–known as gynecomastia– are actually relatively common during puberty due to fluctuating hormones. Many boys produce excess estrogen during this time, which can cause some breast development. This will usually even out once puberty ends, but for some boys, it doesn’t. A breast reduction procedure can help flatten and firm the chest.
Because hormone levels are still shifting, performing this surgery before full maturity has been achieved risks a return of the gynecomastia. For this reason, we recommend patients wait as long as possible before seeking a surgical solution. By waiting until about age 18, patients will be more fully developed physically and emotionally, but the procedure can be performed before then if necessary.
What are the signs that a teen is ready for plastic surgery?
Even if a teenager is physically ready for a procedure, it still may not be an appropriate time to perform it. For teens under 18, parental consent is required before any surgical procedure can be carried out. If you have a teen inquiring about plastic surgery, here are a few signs that they may be ready for such a big step.
- They have realistic goals and understand what plastic surgery can–and cannot–accomplish.
- They specifically ask you about plastic surgery options. The desire for treatment should come from teens themselves, not a parent, friend, or other influence.
- They are able to follow pre- and post-operative instructions. Your teen should be able to listen and absorb what the surgeon says, and follow the directions set forth to prepare and recover from surgery.
Trust your teen to the experts at Plastic Surgery Group of Memphis
Here at Plastic Surgery Group of Memphis, we’re happy to work with parents to make a decision about plastic surgery that is most appropriate for their teen. Our surgeons offer a variety of both surgical and non-surgical procedures to meet the unique needs of each patient, and we pride ourselves on the compassionate care we provide. If you have a teen wondering if plastic surgery could be the right choice for them, get in touch with our team today to schedule a consultation!