Kids and Plastic Surgery
"My boobs are too small!" "I wish I looked like so-and-so" ... exclamations like this have been coming out of teenagers' mouths for ages, a result of the self-esteem issues felt by nearly every adolescent. Nowadays, there are surgeries that can actually change their looks. How young is too young to have plastic surgery?
Chelsea is 16. She had corrective surgery on her nose after she broke it. "I've heard so many horror stories about going to the emergency room to get your broken nose fixed, so I took her straight to the plastic surgeon," says Chelsea's mom, Carla. "Her nose is a lot better, it is pretty."
She now says she wouldn't mind getting liposuction on her thighs and possibly a breast enhancement, but she wants to carefully weigh the decision.
Seventeen-year-old Olivia, an actress, has had several procedures. She got a breast enhancement as a graduation present, had laser treatments to help clear up her skin, and had Restyline injected into her lips to make them look fuller. "I brought in a picture of Angelina Jolie," she recounts. "She's definitely the one that I wanted to have my lips like."
Olivia made sure to do extensive research on her own and went to several doctors before finding one that made her feel comfortable. Ultimately, she explains, "I just decided to use technology to my advantage and make myself happier. I believe that parents should let their kids have plastic surgery if they wish."
Brooke had always been made fun of for her weight, with names like "fat girl" and "chubs," and questions about whether she was pregnant. She always exercised and tried countless diets but nothing seemed to work.
Brooke's mom Cindy hated seeing her daughter so upset. "Brooke's real strong so she held herself together all day long and then she would just break down," she says.
Liposuction and a subsequent tummy tuck, Brooke says, have changed not only her weight but also her life. "Now I go out and people are like 'Oh my gosh, you've changed so much. I just feel confident now and I can go look in the mirror," she says, explaining that she's now down to 158 pounds partly due to a diet and exercise regimen that is finally working.
There's no doubt plastic surgery can boost a person's self-confidence but how does it affect children so young, especially because their bodies and minds are still developing? Dr. Jeannette Martello, board-certified plastic surgeon, weighs in on the issue.
"There is a huge controversy on this but most, I'd say the majority of plastic surgeons, board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, are leaning to have you wait until the age of 18," says Dr. Martello. She stresses the importance of carefully weighing the consequences of breast surgery or any procedure, and believes emotional maturity is even more important than physical maturity in determining whether a teenager is a suitable candidate. "It's not as easy as getting your make up done," she says. "It's not a breakfast breast job, it's not lunchtime lipo. And just because everyone else is doing it, doesn't make it right."
After hearing Dr. Martello's thoughts, Chelsea decides to rethink her desire to get liposuction and a breast enhancement, at least for the time being. "Now that I know there's major risk involved, which I knew there was, it opened my eyes ... but when you want something so bad, you're going to get it done. Maybe I'll wait 'til I'm older but I'm still thinking about it."
Olivia, meanwhile, stands by her decision and feels confident that she was responsible in doing her homework by consulting several physicians before selecting one and moving forward. She advises other teens to make the decision very carefully. "Be sure you're smart about it," she advises. "And know that it is serious."
Dr. Jeannette Martello is editor-in-chief of Skin Deep magazine.
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