Teens and Cosmetic Surgery

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In 2003, more than 223 000 cosmetic procedures were performed on patients 18 years of age or younger and almost 39 000 were surgical procedures such as nose reshaping, breast lifts, breast augmentation, liposuction, and tummy tucks [1]. As we consider under what circumstances plastic surgery is appropriate for teens, it is important to recognize that very few studies have been conducted to examine the risks for teens of these increasingly common procedures. Research is especially needed for the more controversial procedures such as breast implants, liposuction, and genital plastic surgery. There is no question that reconstructive surgeries can benefit children and youth. Surgical procedures to correct cleft lips and palates, for example, are not controversial. Plastic surgery to correct unattractive facial features that can attract ridicule from other children, such as prominent noses and ears, are generally accepted in the United States. Cultural phenomena such as surgical makeovers on numerous television programs, however, make it increasingly difficult to agree on what constitutes a "normal" appearance and when the desire to improve one's appearance is questionable or even crosses the line to psychopathology [2]. In this commentary, I will focus on elective, cosmetic procedures on an otherwise healthy adolescent with no illness or defect. Plastic Surgery in a Developing Teen

One of the concerns about plastic surgery on adolescents is that their bodies are still maturing. In addition to development that may occur in the late teens, growth charts indicate that the average girl gains weight between the ages of 18 and 21, and that is likely to change her desire or need for breast augmentation as well as liposuction. There are no epidemiological studies or clinical trials on the safety and long-term risks of these procedures for adolescents. Although the FDA approved saline breast implants for women ages 18 and older [3], it is legal for physicians to perform...
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