Teen Plastic Surgery Cosmetic plastic surgery has been increasing rapidly in the medical field, and making its way to the top of the beauty spectrum when it comes to what is important. Teenagers, especially adolescent girls, have been exploring the new ways to enhance their external appearance, and not with just lipstick and eye shadow. In the past three decades, surgeons, magazine editors, and book authors have been investigating the consequences, good and bad, of having cosmetic surgery at such a young age and what exactly is influencing this surgical epidemic.
The question is this: should teenagers be able to get cosmetic surgery at such an early age? A review of both anecdotal experiences as well as scholarly evidence will prove both sides of the question. What became apparent in the process of this review was the subsidiary surgical risks, financial expenditures, maturity level and psychological effects that contribute, as a whole, to getting a cosmetic procedure. Financial Issues One of the first questions to ask before surgery is, what are the financial repercussions of having it performed?
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In this time of national recession, surgery can become increasingly expensive, especially if you are not able to obtain results without undergoing another procedure. Dr. Zuckerman claims that,” Many plastic surgeons offer cosmetic surgery on the installment plan, and more than one-third of augmentation patients undergo additional surgery to correct problems within three years, therefore, many young women who need to have a broken or painful implant removed will be still paying for the initial augmentation surgery and unable to afford corrective surgery” (2008).
Because the most popular forms of cosmetic surgery for teens are breast augmentations, liposuction and rhinoplasty, these procedures come with a hefty price tag. “Financial costs are higher for silicone gel breast implants compared to saline breast implants and can cost up to $10,000 a pair” (Zuckerman, 2001). In other words, Zuckerman theorizes that, as in most businesses, the more popular a surgery becomes, the higher the prices will continue to go.
Some people do not realize it at times, but plastic surgery is not covered by any type of insurance, meaning that these procedures are paid for out of pocket by the patient. Because some teens are emotionally more mature and responsible than others, they begin to realize the realistic goals to obtaining a cosmetic procedure and the steps they have to take to achieve it, like saving up money. Cultural Influences Now the question is, who is influencing these teenagers to make such a big decision at such a young age?
According to Boodman, “The enormous popularity of reality TV shows such as Extreme Makeover, The Swan and MTV’s I Want a Famous Face, as well as an explosion of websites that extol the virtues of cosmetic medicine, has fueled the desire of adolescent girls to alter their bodies permanently, and they are finding more surgeons willing to oblige them” (2004 ). With the media so prominent in everyday life and the fashion industry stressing that being skinny means being pretty it is taking a toll on young teenager’s self-esteem.
These influences also stir up emotions so that individuals are lead to believe that it is just that easy. Ads that claim to work miracles on any external imperfection to help boost confidence and popularity are really just trying to boost sales, especially in today’s society. Teens start to create a picture in their mind based on the media of what is considered the perfect person, and yet they do not realize that these are not real situations. Another aspect to consider when studying who exactly influences a young teenager is their parents and their own views on plastic surgery. One of the main reasons for increase in visibility: today’s teenagers are growing up with parents who have had cosmetic surgery, so they see and hear about it more” (Wansbrough,2003). Teens between the ages of 13 and 19 face an immense amount of peer pressure from friends and family which can alter their minds into thinking that surgery is the only possible solution. Maturity When studying adolescent teens, you must consider the maturity level of understanding the different implications of surgery and all that it entails. Although there is no prohibition against performing surgery on patients younger than 18, some surgeons say they are reluctant to do so in part because they may still be growing” (Boodman, 2004). At such a young age, it is hard to imagine deciding on a serious procedure that could affect the patient for many years to come and to understand the risks that are involved. The teens who seem to be getting these procedures do not realize that their bodies are still growing mentally and physically.
Even though one might think that getting these procedures will enhance beauty and self-esteem, it will not guarantee happiness. “Having cleavage may be the most important thing when you’re 18, but it’s not when your 25,” Zuckerman stated (2008). Knowing your priorities and putting what is most important first can save a lot of financial hardships and personal dissatisfaction. So why talk about only girl teenagers; what about boys getting cosmetic surgery? The truth is, that anyone and everyone tends to become more masculine looking with age.
For boys, this is a wonderful trait that can increase self-esteem, but for girls, it is their worst nightmare. Studies have shown that society as a whole has a tendency to put more pressure on girls to “look good” which makes for competition amongst themselves. However, studies have been conducted to prove that boys are not far behind the girls when it comes to this increase in surgery trends. There were more than 16,000 breast reduction surgeries performed in the last year on boys alone, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
It is not all about trying to copy someone else, such as a celebrity, but more of a way to correct a flaw that may seem big at a young age. Effects Maturity is only half of the equation says experts, because of the long-term effects of the different procedures. One of the hardest procedures to predict is the outcome of breast augmentations. Because of the boom in silicone filled implants, problems and questions have risen about the subject and some experts are wondering if they are even safe. The Food and Drug Administration [FDA] has banned the widespread use of silicone-gel implants because of the unanswered questions about their safety but permits the use of saline-filled implants, which have a silicone shell. ” A personal experience that greatly affected a girl named Tracy helps to justify why so many people are questioning the issue. She tells of what influenced her and her sudden decision to declare her adulthood by telling her parents that she would proceed to get the surgery with or without consent.
After the costly surgery, a couple weeks went by and she began to have aches and pains in her chest and arms, but none of the doctors could figure out why. After a year went by, she found a doctor who diagnosed her with rheumatoid arthritis and suggested that the implants be taken out. “Although many women continue to believe their implants made them sick, no scientific link has been conclusively established with autoimmune diseases according to the FDA” (Boodman, 2004). When teens start to mold into what society pressures them into being, they begin to build false and unrealistic expectations.
Many doctors now are not only doing the regular consultation before, but are hiring psychologists to come sit in the consultation and examine the true need of the surgery. “9 times out of 10, teens are wanting surgery to look like a celebrity, or to mimic their parent,” proclaims Winkler (2003). The procedure is not always the risky part. Anesthesia is a source of hazard because of the effects it has on teens and their body system. They are not fully developed, meaning that the levels of medicine used for a fully-grown adult can result in heart failure and blood clots for them. A new study from the University of Michigan Health System found that obese children are much more likely than normal-weight children to have problems with airway obstruction and other breathing-related functions during surgery” (Winkler, 2003). Another aspect to consider is the healing process – the time and possibly painful aftermath. School should be a number one priority in a teenagers life, so why waste that on 2 months of recovery? This seems to be a question that not many teens contemplate before going under the knife. Popular Surgeries Among Teenagers
After examining all of the risks and costs of the surgeries, which one do you choose? “While rhinoplasty remains the most common cosmetic operation for teenagers, doctors are performing an increasing number of procedures such as breast implants, liposuction and tummy tucks on young women and men” (Boodman, 2004). Even though statistics have usually a 1-5% error, they can help to understand the fads that are going and coming in the world today. Boys are starting to undergo plastic surgery, not to have bigger breasts, but to have a smaller nose or even ears that do not stick out.
Although these procedures may seem reasonable, it still does not make them safe. Teens are abusing their parents who seem gullible enough to shell out $10,000 for an ear job, but as scholars have found, there is no stopping them. “From 2002 to 2003, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the number of girls 18 and younger who got breast implants nearly tripled, from 3,872 to 11,326. Among all age groups, cosmetic implants have skyrocketed in popularity, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Last year, according to the ASPS, about 247,000 women got implants for augmentation, compared with 32,000 in 1992″ (Boodman, 2004). Boodman is proclaiming here that basically, plastic surgery is almost as accepted as getting braces nowadays for young teens. Psychological Effects Many girls are now asking for surgery instead of a new laptop or car for their graduation present. The increasing influence and pressure that the media, friends, and even family has on teenagers is questionable; is it to help their self-esteem or damage it?
Psychological studies have also been conducted on many teens who have had a nip and tuck to reach the level they feel needs to be obtained. Teens are a lot different than adults when thinking about surgery because unlike adults who undergo surgery to turn back the clock, teens see a flaw that is effecting their ability to fit in. Even high volume celebrities feel insecure about their body and will go to great lengths to achieve “happiness. ” ” I’ve done liposuction on a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model.
This is somebody most people would think looked perfect. But she was very insecure. She didn’t see herself the way others did. I can’t give people confidence,” says Dr. Antell (Wansbrough,2003). If even celebrities cannot feel accepted by the public eye, how is an emotional teenager going to deal with the pressure? Because teenage years are filled with financial situation changes, divorce, and fitting in with the popular crowd, this can have a negative effect on their image and ego.
Another big issue that faces teens today, especially adolescent girls, is Body Dysmorphic Disorder [BDD]. “When having this disorder, one falsely believes as though they are unusually ugly and is closely related to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder [OCD]” (Winkler,2003). Because this disorder is not uncommon in teens, surgeons have to go through many consultations and interviews with their young patients to make sure that they are not just wanting the surgery because they “think” something is wrong with their physical appearance.
Teens should look to a specialist or psychologist to help with these issues, not a plastic surgeon. Studies have shown that even after a teenager with [BDD] has received surgery, their symptoms may become increasingly worse, and overall they are at an increased risk of becoming obsessed with multiple procedures. Winkler testifies that “BDD tends to be chronic and can lead to social isolation, school dropout, major depression, unnecessary surgery and even suicide” (2003). Advantages
There is more to plastic surgery than the consequences and draw backs of the procedure; benefits can also come along with the package. Another personal experience gave people a new insight on plastic surgery. One girl was simply unhappy with her fully developed 34 A cup size and wanted to get surgery to take her up to a C. She had been saving money and even consulted with her mother about the big decision. Because of her college scholarships, her parents agreed to pay the $6,700 fee and let her proceed with the surgery.
She is now a lot happier with her 36 C cup and feels confident and overall happy. ( Boodman,2004 ) Not every situation is a fairytale, but once you have considered each part of the before, during, and after, it seems reasonable to believe that you can decide what is best for yourself, inside and out. Barricades from media, friends, family, and co-workers can put a damper on self-esteem and body image, but by being educated on any big decision, especially surgery that has short-term and long-term effects, it can ultimately save you hardship later on.
Uneducated teenagers who think money, time, and health are easily attained need to reconsider certain procedures and wait till they are mature, emotionally stable, and readily comfortable with coming to a reasonable conclusion on which surgery is right for them. Conclusion On the basic level, the information from various sources has shown that there is both negative and positive aspects to plastic surgery. If you consider both sides of the equation, you still have to realize that, without a legal consequence, it is going to continue being wildly popular because people are never going to stop being insecure about their self image.
With a prominent fashion industry and an even more so media, people will always be looking at others and thinking what if I could look like that. Plastic surgery has become the answer to this question. It may have some slightly less than desirable side effects – not limited to, but including the cost, the healing process, and potential health problems – but that does not mean it is a wholly undesirable undertaking.
In direct opposition to the people who have told their stories of surgery gone wrong, there are also many people who have undergone plastic surgery and have claimed an overall positive experience, with the only results being increased self esteem and a more assured body image. Many experts are unsure if it is something that teens should necessarily be undergoing due to their not fully developed bodies and ranging levels of emotional maturity. However, the fact of the matter is that they are going to continue getting surgery as long as they have someone who is willing to pay.
References Boodman, S. (2004, October 26). For more Teenage girls, adult plastic surgery. The Washington Post, A01-A02. McGrath, M. (2000). Plastic surgery and the teenage patient. Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, 13(3), Retrieved from http://www. sciencedirect. com/science? _ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6W68-416BX8X-2&_user=290868&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1064473072&_rerunOrigin=scholar. google&_acct=C000015398&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=290868&md5=e67b1191d3b82eb638f045e380f40724 Wansbrough, L. 2003, September 21). Bodies under construction: teen cosmetic surgery. Faze Magazine, Retrieved from http://www. fazeteen. com/fall2003/cosmeticsurgery. htm Winkler, K. (2003). Cosmetic surgery for teens: choices and consequences. New York, New York: Enslow Publisher’s Incorporated. Zuckerman, D, & Abraham, A. (2008). Teenagers and cosmetic surgery: focus on breast augmentation and liposuction. Journal of Adolescent Health, 43(4), Retrieved from