Cosmetic surgery for teenagers
Appearance is of great importance for young people, especially in the age of social media. The desire for social acceptance is strongest during adolescence, but also leaves teenagers prone to sensitivity and lack of confidence.
Changing the body with the help of plastic surgery is an appealing choice for young adults who have a hard time integrating into society due to imperfections in their appearance. However, these individuals must fully understand the repercussions of undergoing plastic surgery. It is the surgeon’s responsibility to assess if the young patient’s request will be for his or her own good.
When surgery is denied
The plastic surgeon has the right and even the responsibility to refuse to perform an intervention if he deems it inappropriate, especially if there is no legitimate medical reason to do so or if the patient has unrealistic expectations.
During the initial consultation, the surgeon must assess if the patient is emotionally stable and keen on undergoing surgery for the right reasons. In some cases it is the parents who want to have the procedure performed on their child, mostly to correct minimal or moderate defects. While parents only want the best for their children, the decision to undergo surgery should come from the patient alone.
An example is a parent wishing for her daughter to undergo a breast reduction so that the daughter can pursue a career in sports. The child was not keen to undergo surgery at all and was worried about the long-term potential complications, such as the transformations that would occur on her body and the possibility of not being able to breastfeed in the future. This conflict of interest between parent and child is enough grounds for a surgeon to deny the procedure.
There are also mothers who want their daughters to pursue a career in the fashion or entertainment industry. However, breast implants cannot be performed on patients who are below 18 years old. Only patients who are old enough to give their own consent are eligible for this procedure.
Aside from their parents’ wishes, there are also teenagers who wish to undergo plastic surgery as a result of poor self-perception. The surgeon may request the patient to consult with a psychologist first to ensure the child’s mental health. There are cases where patients may request for a liposuction or tummy tuck even if there is little to no fat present in their bodies. This may be an indication of bulimia or anorexia, and parents are advised to seek help and counseling for their children as soon as possible.
The surgeon may also refuse to perform a procedure if the patient is undergoing plastic surgery simply to imitate the appearance of famous people or another person. Nose jobs are frequently requested, for example.
When surgery is accepted
The only time a plastic surgery is performed on a minor is when a major physical defect is present, causing persistent physical or psychological distress to the patient. The most common cases include breast reduction and facial corrections (nose, ears, chin, etc.)
Despite this, it is still the surgeon’s responsibility to take all precautionary measures and discuss the subject at length with the patient and the parents. All parties involved must agree on the necessity of the intervention. The parents and the patient should also be fully aware and prepared to face the potential risks and complications involved in the surgery.
Plastic surgery for teenagers should never be taken lightly, not even when there are strong anatomical arguments. The plastic surgeon needs to be sure that the patient is mature enough to understand and has serious reasons for wanting to undergo plastic surgery.
A responsible plastic surgeon should never operate on a teenager who is not fully aware of what to expect after the surgery or is reluctant to accept the side effects of the intervention, even if the family puts pressure. It is essential for both the patients and their parents to understand that having a board-certified plastic surgeon to perform the intervention is essential for the success of the procedure.
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