Of the 223,000 cosmetic surgeries in 2003 on patients who were 18 years old or younger, 39,000 of them were breast augmentation, nose reshaping, and liposuction. Many parents are giving their teenage daughters breast implants for gifts. However, parents and teens do not take into consideration that teens’ bodies are still developing (Zuckerman, 2005). As the adolescent’s body grows, body parts that seem to large or too small can become proportionate (Izenberg, 2004). The average teenage girl can gain weight between the ages of 18 and 21.
The weight gain could change a teen’s mind about needing breast implants or liposuction (Zuckerman, 2005). Teenage girls who have a poor body image may want cosmetic surgery to feel better about themselves. They also want to fit in and be accepted by their peers (Izenberg, 2004). Researchers have yet to conduct studies on the long term effects or benefits among teens that have had cosmetic surgery. There are studies that have found an increase in body satisfaction among older teens (Zuckerman, 2005). Eisenberg, Neumark-Sztainer, and Paxton (2006) did a study on body satisfaction among adolescence.
In 1999 and in 2004, they had adolescence complete a survey to report how satisfied they were with 10 body parts, height and weight, and other attributes. The researchers found that as teen moved through adolescence, body satisfaction decreased except in older females. Girls who were transitioning from high school to young adulthood reported higher body satisfaction. It is possible that maturity and other personal characteristics are more important to their self image (Eisenberg, Neumark-Sztainer, & Paxton, 2006). Parents and teens who are considering cosmetic surgery need to be aware of the risks of surgery.
Most women who had a breast augmentation reported serious complications within three years. These complications include infection, painful hardening of the breast, loss of nipple sensation, and scarring. Breast implants also have a tendency to provide insufficient lactations, so it can be difficult to breast feed. Breast implants normally last ten years, so an adolescent with breast implants will need to have several surgeries during her life. Liposuction also has serious risks. These risks include infection, fat or blood clots, and fluid loss. Liposuction can also damage the skin, nerves, or vital organs (Zuckerman, 2005).
In addition to the risks of surgery, parents and teens must consider the cost of cosmetic surgery. While most medical insurance covers reconstructive surgeries, cosmetic surgeries are rarely covered. The patient is responsible for the cost of the surgery. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons policy statement on breast augmentation in teenagers, is it possible that teens do not have the physical or emotional maturity to have cosmetic surgery. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved breast implants for adolescents under the age of 18.
The FDA has not approved the surgery because teenage bodies have not fully developed, teens need to be aware of the psychological outcomes of the surgery, and parents and their teens may not be aware of the risks associated with breast implants (www. plasticsurgery. org). Recommended Ethical Strategy There are many reconstructive surgeries for teens that are appropriate. Such procedures include ear pining, correction of breast asymmetry or correction of enlarged breast in boys, and correction of a cleft palate. These surgeries can help teens to look and feel better about themselves.
However, cosmetic surgery to enlarge breast or to remove unwanted fat should not be performed on people under the age of 18. Liposuction and breast augmentation are not quick fixes to improve a teen’s body image. Teens should try exercise and eating healthy before cosmetic surgery. All teens considering cosmetic surgery should see a counselor. Emotions have an impact on how a teen feels about his or her body (Izenberg, 2004). If a teen is considering cosmetic surgery, he or she needs to have realistic expectations and be emotionally mature.
If a teen insist on having cosmetic surgery, they must carefully research the plastic surgeon that will be performing the surgery. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons recommends that teens and their parents make sure they choose a surgeon who graduated from an accredited medical school and has at least five years of experience. The surgeon also needs to be licensed in the state the procedure will take place. The ASPS also encourages informed consent. Teens and their parents need to be aware of the details of the surgery, the risks and consequences, and the side effects (www. plasticsurgery. org).
Summary Before I did the research on this topic, I assumed teens that were having cosmetic surgery were getting breast implants and liposuction. I never considered cosmetic surgery for reconstructive purposes. There are teens that need plastic surgery to correct deformities. I think that teens that have a poor body image should not be allowed to use cosmetic surgery as a quick fix. Teens and parents need to find other methods of improving body image. I also hope that plastic surgeons do not take operating on teens lightly. They need to make sure the patient is physically and emotionally ready for the procedure.