Published December 27, 2019
Teenagers often feel self-conscious about their looks, which is understandable since rapid hormonal changes and growth spurts can play havoc with the body during adolescence. Many teens, therefore, consider getting cosmetic surgery. In the United States, the FDA has approved certain cosmetic surgeries for patients older than 18 years of age.
There are many concerns regarding plastic and cosmetic surgery in teenagers. One of the problems is that the person may still be growing, and in fact, young women may still be gaining weight even between ages 18 and 21. This means that the breasts may still grow more, especially since much of the breast tissue is made of (adipose) fat.
The other issue is that a teenager may not yet be emotionally mature and it may be smart to wait until the person is older and has a better understanding of surgery and the risks involved. This is particularly true for more complicated procedures that involve general anesthesia and greater risks.
It is also possible that a teen so concerned about appearance may actually have the psychological disorder known as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). If this is the case, then no amount of surgery or cosmetic procedures will be helpful and there is the risk of the person becoming addicted to cosmetic surgery as they grow older and can afford to have work done.
BDD and addiction to cosmetic surgery
Unfortunatley, people who have body dysmorphic disorder often seek out plastic surgeons to get procedures done, to fix the way that they look. The problem with this is that once one feature is fixed, they are still not satisfied and often will want another cosmetic procedure done.
This plastic surgery addiction is harmful and it does nothing for the underlying mental illness that the person actually has. This means that no matter what surgeries are done, the patient is still unsatisfied.
What is a safe age to have cosmetic surgery?
It is difficult to state exactly what specific age is safe for cosmetic surgery since it is influenced by many factors. Some procedures that are relatively minor such as dental work can probably be safely done in teenagers who have their adult teeth and whose jaws are no longer growing. Of course orthodontic procedures are actually best done in childhood before growth has stopped.
In situations such as breast augmentation, being older than 18 is advisable and, in fact, the FDA in the United States has age guidelines for breast implants.
Procedures such as liposuction and tummy tucks are also probably best and safest to have done when a person is an adult. This is because a person who is still growing may actually lose the fat when they have a growth spurt. The other issue is that teenagers should also be taught correct eating and exercise patterns and how this can help with weight management and body shape. Then, when the teenager becomes an adult, if they want to, they can choose to have liposuction or some other procedure.