Teens Seeking Plastic Surgery

Why, What and What's the Next Step?

The Pressure to Be Perfect. Getty Images

Being a teenager isn’t easy, especially in today’s world. Everywhere you turn, there are images of men and women that society considers to be “perfect” – celebrities and models that others strive to emulate. This constant comparison can lead young men and women to want to change the way that they look, especially people who are in a time in their lives where they really feel intense pressure to fit in.

Thousands of teenagers each year are willing to take drastic measures to alter their appearance.

“Teenagers who want to have plastic surgery usually have different motivations and goals than adults. They often have plastic surgery to improve physical characteristics they feel are awkward or flawed, that if left uncorrected, may affect them well into adulthood. Teens tend to have plastic surgery to fit in with peers, to look similar. Adults tend to have plastic surgery to standout from others.” Plastic Surgery for Teenagers Briefing Paper

In addition to the pressure felt in today’s society by teenagers to fit in, some are dealing with other issues that may lead them into a plastic surgeon’s office. Perhaps their breasts are too large or asymmetrical, making them self-conscious and/or uncomfortable, or perhaps they have experienced horrible acne that led to facial scarring. Often they are just fed up with being teased by others about their large nose or ears that stick out.

Regardless of their issues, if a person is under the age of 18 and wishes to have cosmetic surgery, parental consent is absolutely required. It’s important to note that the best outcomes are always when the teenager initiates the request, has expressed their desire over a significant period of time (ensuring that they are serious about having the procedure done), and he or she has realistic expectations and sufficient maturity.


According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons 2013 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report, 219,564 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19 had a cosmetic surgery procedure that year. Here are the top five surgical procedures performed on teenagers:

  1. NOSE RESHAPING / RHINOPLASTY / NOSE JOB accounted for nearly 50% of all cosmetic surgical procedures performed on this age group. Before this surgery can be considered, the nose must have reached its adult size. The nose has usually finished growing by age 15 or 16 in girls, and age 16 or 17 in boys.
  2. BREAST ASYMMETRY CORRECTION / MAMMAPLASTY can be accomplished through augmentation or reduction surgery, when one breast differs from the other in size and/or shape. 
  3. EAR PINBACK / OTOPLASTY can be performed around the age of 5 or 6.
  4. BREAST REDUCTION for females can be performed around age 15. This is requested by girls who are embarrassed or physically uncomfortable due to overly large breasts. Breast reduction in men is called gynecomastia.
  5.  LIP AUGMENTATION (other than injectable materials)

    Below are the top 5 cosmetic minimally-invasive procedures performed on teenagers: 

    1. Laser hair removal
    2. Laser skin resurfacing (acne and acne scar treatment)
    3. Laser treatment of leg veins
    4. Botulinum Toxin Type A (Botox, Dysport)
    5. Microdermabrasion

    If you are a teen considering plastic surgery, it’s so important that you are requesting this because it is something that you truly want for yourself; that you’re not considering a major change to your appearance in order to make someone else happy. If after giving this LOTS of consideration and doing plenty of research, make an appointment with a board-certified plastic surgeon so you can discuss the pros and cons of the procedure(s), and whether you’re a good candidate. Be sure to ask the doctor about his experiences with the procedure(s) (number performed, outcomes, etc.), and don't be afraid to ask to speak to previous patients and request to view "before and after" photos. 



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