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Posts Tagged ‘teenage plastic surgery’

The Challenges of Plastic Surgery in Teens

Sunday, December 29th, 2013


Plastic Surgery for Teens Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisAesthetic plastic surgery in minors (under the age of 18), also called teenage plastic surgery, has its own unique set of challenges. Many plastic surgeons perform procedures on minors as attested to the over 75,000 operations reported by the members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons in 2012. The most common procedures for teenagers were rhinoplasty, gynecomastia reduction, otoplasty, breast reduction and liposuction.

While there are exceptions, the vast majority of plastic surgery is teens is done to improve an awkward feature or one that makes them very self-conscious or is teased or bullied as a result of it. This creates a natural desire to fit in with their peer groups unlike in some adults who may have plastic surgery to stand out or be more attractive. This is not to say that there is not a strong desire for some teens to be more beautiful or be driven by the appearance of some celebrity, but the cost of plastic surgery makes the pursuit of such aesthetic goals unrealistic for most teenagers and unsupported by most parents as well.

Classic examples of awkward and dysfunctional teenage features would be large and uncomfortable breasts in girls and the development of unsightly breast tissue in boys. These are frequent teenage plastic surgeries because they have been historically covered by medical insurance. The same can be said for nasal breathing problems in either girls or boys who will have to pay extra to have the outer portion of their nose reshaped at the same time.

While much is made of whether a teenager is mature enough to be making a good decision about having plastic surgery, their needs or desire for it is not really much different than in any adult. They may be some family dynamics between a teenager and their parent(s), particularly when the minor is pro surgery and the parent is con, but the bigger psychological issue is one of realistic expectations. In today’s society where images and the ‘benefits’ of having plastic surgery are exaggerated by internet and media exposure, teenagers have little appreciation for what plastic surgery can and can not do and even less tolerance for the realities of recovering from it. This is where having a good rapport with the parent(s) is very critical as they become the buffer in the after surgery period.

The demand for teenagers seeking plastic surgery is only going to slowly increase. We live in an era of unprecedented internet social exposure of which Facebook is just the tip of the iceberg. Teenager’s faces and bodies have public exposure like never before which exposes them to being judged not only in their local community but from just about anyone around the world. And we all know well that much of these judgments are more likely to be negative than positive. The lack of any online accountability and the refusal of most internet sites to do any highly responsive monitoring has raised ridicule and bullying to levels never seen before.

One of the other phenomenon of internet exposure is that plastic surgery can seem ‘magical’ to teenagers. This is particularly seen in celebrity plastic surgery images where teenagers have no concept of the degree of image manipulation that goes on and that plastic surgery can not make someone look perfect or like someone else. Plastic surgery involves real risks and recovery and rarely, if ever, is any result perfect. This makes surgery for relatively minor issues, particularly on the face, a potential setup for disappointment in the unrealistic teenager who may behaving the surgery in the hope that it will have some transformative effect on their lives.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Plastic Surgery’s Did You Know? Teen Plastic Surgery

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012


Teens historically account for a very small percentage of patients who have plastic surgery. Estimates vary but most plastic surgeons report that patients under 21 years of age, particularly those 18 or younger, account for less than 5% of their practice population. The reasons for this small percentage are obvious, teens have little money to afford the procedures and have to get parental consent to undergo them. But that is changing for a variety of reasons. Certainly attitudes towards plastic surgery have changed as well as cultural and societal influences. But the main driving reason has been the rise in non-surgical cosmetic procedures, many of which did not exist just ten years ago. Treatments such as laser hair removal, light and laser therapies for acne, skin rejuvenation and mole and blemish removal have increased dramatically in the teen population. Even the ‘standard’ teen surgical procedures such as rhinoplasty, otoplasty and breast reduction are becoming more commonplace.   

The Role Of Plastic Surgery In Bullying Management

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Bullying for school age children and teenagers has reached unprecented awareness recently. While it is a social phenomenon that has gone on forever, many recent examples of internet intimidations and even suicides has made it newsworthy of late. The recent movie release “Bully’ has brought an awareness particularly to adults that brings back unfortunate memories for many and is perhaps why the movie has appeal to more than just those in school. Unlike days of old when bullying may have been limited to school time, there is nowhere to hide in today’s internet and smartphone age.

While bullying occurs for many reasons, physical deformities and differences are a frequent source. It is one thing when a child and teenager know that they are structurally different, but it reaches a malicious and psychosocial altering situation when it is brought to public attention. Whether it is a big nose, ears that stick out or breasts that are too large, such visually apparent features can be a source of torment and intimidation.

Is plastic surgery a solution for bullying when these physical conditions exist? Before bullying reached its current awareness, such plastic surgery procedures have been done for a long time for those children and teenagers whose self-images were affected by them. There is no question that such operations as rhinoplasty, otoplasty, congenital facial deformity surgery (e.g., cleft lip and palate) and breast reduction have psychologically helped many young patients. I have seen and been told by parents of patients that they have become less introverted and shy after their plastic surgery. I can often see it in their eyes and facial expressions that they are feeling better about themselves.

But that does not make plastic surgery a solution for bullying? You can change the physical deformity but you can’t change their social circumstances. Plastic surgery is but one tool, one aspect of the therapy so to speak, in bullying management for the physically affected. In the properly selected patient who has parental support and permission, plastic surgery correction can make an invaluable contribubtion.

This should not be confused with other plastic surgery procedures that do not correct a physical deformity but are done in an effort to alter one’s natural, albeit not desired, body shape. These would be so-called efforts to make one look more thin or shapely. Or to help one have a body that is more like that of some celebrity or model. Breast augmentation and liposuction, while a personal decision for adults, are not what I would consider important self-image surgeries for younger patients to help them escape bullying or criticisms from their peers.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Plastic Surgery Procedures For Teenagers

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

While teenagers (under 18 years of age) make up just a small fraction of all plastic surgery patients, that percent has decreased over the past decade. According to statistics from the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, teenagers represented about 3.5% of all procedures performed in 2001 and decreased to about 1.5% by 2009. This is interesting in light of all the plastic surgery reality shows and press that cosmetic surgery garners. It is the public’s perception that such exposure from the TV and internet promotes teens to want and subsequently undergo plastic surgery The statistics, however, shows that it simply isn’t so. The reason is economics. Teens simply can’t afford plastic surgery, or even get it, without parental consent and financial assistance.

For those teens that do get plastic surgery, the most common procedures are skin-related being laser hair removal and chemical peels. These are relatively low cost procedures compared to surgery and treated disturbing skin conditions related to puberty such as acne and excessive facial and body hair. When it comes to surgery, however, otoplasty or ear pinning is the most common teen plastic surgery procedure. Because of the very obvious presence of ears that stick out and the ridicule that can result from them, parents support such ear surgery. Otoplasty often is recommended for children as they near total ear development at age five or six. Correction of the ears prior to the child entering school helps eliminate potential psychological trauma from the teasing of classmates. Ifnot done as a child, the pressure of the teenage years will usually bring it to the table, so to speak. (the operative table)

Beyond otoplasty, the nose and breast represent the majority of other teen cosmetic surgeries. Rhinoplasty or nose reshaping has always been a highly requested aesthetic surgical procedure by teens. It can be performed when the nose has completed 90 percent of its growth, which can occur as early as age 13 or 14 in girls and 15 or 16 in boys. Because of internal breathing problems from septal deviation and broken noses, this also serves as an opportune time to change how it looks as well.

Teen breast surgery is just as common in boys as it is girls. In some teenage boys, excessive breast development (gynecomastia) can become a significant psychosocial problem. It has kept many teen boys from participating in sports and becoming a recluse at the swimming pool. Gynecomastia reduction helps make the chest flatter and more masculine. Breast reduction is frequently performed on girls also with overly large breasts that may cause back and shoulder pain, as well as restrict physical activity. Breast reduction usually is delayed until the breasts have reached full development closer to age 15 or 16.

Why does breast augmentation not appear as a teen procedure? With the exception of significant breast asymmetry or congenital or traumatic deformities, federal regulations prohibit breast implants for those under the age of 18. But it is done for medical reasons and represents about 1% of all breast implants placed in the U.S.. Severe breast asymmetry, Poland’s Syndrome (congenital absent breast), tubular breast deformity and congenital micromastia (severe underdevelopment) are the medical reasons breast reconstruction with implants is done in teen girls.

Interestingly, liposuction is very uncommonly performed on teenagers. There are but a few thousand procedures that are done per year. This reflects the general cautious approach to liposuction by most plastic surgeons and the belief that weight and body contour at this age requires non-surgical management.

The past decade has shown that the expansion in plastic surgery has not, and probably should not, translate to teenagers. But the reshaping and reconstruction of prominent ears and noses and large and abnormally developed breasts provides great benefit to the still developing psyche of the teenage boy and girl.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

The Myth of a Teenage Plastic Surgery Epidemic

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

Parents are understandably concerned about the potential influence of the media on their children’s perception of their self-image and sense of fashion. With so much coverage of plastic surgery on every type of media, young minds are definitely exposed and easily swayed. This has led to a perception that many teenagers and college students are having plastic surgery. Some have even called it an epidemic. I am frequently asked about this perceived trend from older adults.
In reality, there is no such deluge of young patients undergoing plastic surgery. In my practice, I see no more than 3 or 4 patients a year under the age of 22 who are having some form of cosmetic enhancement. That makes up less than 2% of my practice patients. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, only 5% of college-age women have had plastic surgery although many more see it as an acceptable thing to do. Their study of over 500 women from 6 universities showed that the most common procedures were chemical peels, breast augmentation, breast reduction, and rhinoplasty.
While many more young women may want some form of plastic surgery, there is a simple reason as to why this percentage will not ever significantly increase…..affordability. While many young people may want plastic surgery, there are also the less likely of any age group to have the disposable cash for it. Nor are they likely to be able to get financing which now accounts for a significant percent of patients having cosmetic surgery today.
This exposure at such young ages, while not accounting for a current epidemic, will likely have an impact decades later. I suspect that this generation will be more likely to have plastic surgery later on as a result of their media exposure and the acceptance of face and body alterations.
Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Dr. Barry EppleyDr. Barry Eppley

Dr. Barry Eppley is an extensively trained plastic and cosmetic surgeon with more than 20 years of surgical experience. He is both a licensed physician and dentist as well as double board-certified in both Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. This training allows him to perform the most complex surgical procedures from cosmetic changes to the face and body to craniofacial surgery. Dr. Eppley has made extensive contributions to plastic surgery starting with the development of several advanced surgical techniques. He is a revered author, lecturer and educator in the field of plastic and cosmetic surgery.

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