Teenagers are not the first age group most people think of when it comes to getting work done. Usually the rest of the world looks at teenagers and covets their skin and youthful glow, wanting to re-attain that. However, those same teens are increasingly coming to TSLMS members to change their looks and have things done to their skin that we would likely not recommend. Most of us do the work our clients request but can’t help but wonder what those kids are thinking and why they are making the choices they are. In some cases, like in the event of a rhinoplasty or other surgical reconfiguration, it makes more sense – the kid is softening or beautifying themselves to fit more into what society will accept. In reconstructive cases we are always supportive. But in the case of the completely elective procedure, should we show that same level of support? These are personal positions that we take. In order to not be caught off guard, however, and to do what we feel is right when these clients walk through our doors, it is helpful to know what we might expect to see so we can be better prepared.
Thus, we put this piece together that highlights the most common teenage procedures.
Why Teens Get Plastic Surgery
There is a lot of research on the topic of kids seeking out plastic surgery. Essentially, the experts on the topic tend to agree that the answer lies somewhere in the peer pressure category.
The Montreal Children’s Hospital published a piece entitled, “From Peer Pressure to Plastic Surgery: Why More and More Teens May be Opting to Go Under the Knife” in which they describe some of the incentives they see come into play:
One of the most common types of aesthetic plastic surgery… in both teenage boys and girls is breast surgery. Most of the young women… are very concerned about their breast size, but in some cases they want surgery to correct a deformity. Some girls develop a significant breast asymmetry when one breast is much larger than the other. We also have girls with breast hypertrophy which can cause severe neck and back pain, in addition to other functional issues. Boys also seek breast surgery for gynecomastia, which is an abnormal growth of breast tissue in males during puberty… also treat a lot of young people, males and females, who are concerned about their nose. Many come in with attractive faces but they aren’t quite happy with the size or shape of their nose. Sometimes they are seeking surgery to correct a broken nose, or one that causes breathing issues. Basically, young men and women want to be accepted socially, particularly by their peers and body image plays a big role in their perception of themselves.
Maturity plays a large role in the overall procedure. In Quebec, a 14 year old is allowed to sign a consent form to have surgery. Now, in the case of cosmetic surgery and any other surgery for that matter… there is a large emotional component involved and the teenager should be accompanied by an adult they trust who will help them through the process. The teen may focus on a small thing and may not see the big picture. This is where a parent can step in to help them see things more clearly or make appropriate decisions.
In another piece, published in the NY Post, celebrities are blamed for teens turning to plastic surgery. The article says, “The celebrity drive for perfection is trickling down to the masses, and even teenagers are getting plastic surgery in record numbers. According to The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, nearly 18,000 teens ages 13 to 19 got a form of Botox in 2013. There seems to be ever more pressure for young people to look perfect. Are our public standards of beauty so new? Getting nipped and tucked certainly isn’t. Younger women altering themselves isn’t exactly novel, either. What’s new, though, is how common it is.”
Beyond Surgery, Teens Getting Botulism Toxin?
So if the nose and the breasts are the most common teen surgeries, it would seem that the most common injectable that today’s youth are going for is botulism. Frequently sold and marketed under the label and brand Botox, it is acquirable through a growing number of spas that offer no other medical services.
In 2017, MarketWatch reports over 200,000 US teens got plastic surgery. But even more of these children are seeking out injectables instead of surgeries.
Doctors attribute this to young people scrolling through Instagram FB, +1.60% and Twitter TWTR, -1.38% feeds of celebrities with augmented cheeks and lips. Doctors say this phenomenon is one of many plastic surgery trends fueled by social media… “The average millennial takes over 25,000 selfies in his or her lifetime, which is astronomical and one of the major reasons for the self-esteem issues in this age group,” the report said. “Moreover, the standard selfies have exaggerated lower facial features such as nasal or lip or chin problems, leading to increased interest in this age group for cosmetic medicine and cosmetic surgery.” More than 40% of surgeons in a recent American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery survey said looking better in selfies on Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook was an incentive for patients of all ages getting surgery. This issue may be magnified for teens, who use social media more often.
Overseas, The Guardian noted that we as a profession may want to pause and at least recognize some concern:
While it is particularly troubling that tweens are smiting smile lines before they can feasibly form, the very idea that Botox is “needed” at any time in a woman’s life is as much a part of the problem as anything else. Young girls are trying to preempt a grim reality: that their worth dwindles as their age increases. Yet it seems that the horror of an older woman is still greater than that of needles jutting from baby faces – there are still no legal age restrictions on Botox and the industry remains woefully unregulated.
That said, there is no let up in sight.
Body Sculpting For Teens
While every one of us hopes that the work we are asked to do doesn’t come about before children’s bodies are done growing, there are plenty of times when that is not possible. However, the growing popularity of CoolSculpting is entering the teen market too and they want it! This is encouraged by some providers who advertise it specifically to body-conscious teens. This combo is driving the number of teens seeking the procedure – which is a surprise to none of us in the field. The good news about this particular procedure is that it is non-invasive and non-permanent. Even better is that it is effective!