Move Over School Supplies -Teens Are Going Back To School This Year With New Breasts And Lips
As the mom of a 14 year-old daughter, the scariest request that I’ve gotten from my teenager up until now (being that it is the costliest to my bottom line) is, “Can I go to the mall?” Yet as more celebrity teens like Kylie Jenner have been transformed from the girl next door to va-va-voom vixen –seemingly overnight via cosmetic surgery- I consider myself lucky because my teen hasn’t asked me for breast implants yet!
In fact the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery recently shared statistics on the increasing number of teenagers getting procedures was up 20% from the past year to137,000 in 2014. A 2013 report from England's National Health Service also had 60% of girls aged 11 to 16 saying they felt some pressure to look the way celebrities do. And even 40% of kids aged seven to 10 say the same thing.
As a parent of a teenager who is a freshman in high school, I am acutely aware of the fact that this year will be filled with all sorts of challenges and pressures to fit in. If she ever came to me and felt insecure because of a physical attribute and wanted to have it corrected via plastic surgery I would want to arm both of us with every last bit of knowledge before we made any decisions. The increase in teens getting cosmetic surgery also has me wondering how the plastic surgeons who are performing such procedures feel about this trend. Dr. Christopher Khorsandi weighed in with his thoughts about this phenomenon and whether celebs like Kylie Jenner are the new poster children for teenage plastic surgery.
Have you found that teens are getting more plastic surgery than before?
We have seen an increase in the number of teens coming to our practice for both invasive and noninvasive treatment. The procedures teens are interested in are breast implants, lip fillers, skin care, (particularly for acne), and rhinoplasty surgery. Although the number of teens undergoing surgery has only marginally increased over the past year, we are seeing significant growth in interest from the group.
What are the most common plastic surgery procedures you perform on teens?
The number one surgical procedure I perform on teens is rhinoplasty surgery. There's no mistaking when a patient is unhappy with their nose. They know it, their parents know it, and their doctor knows it. With cameras being so ubiquitous and "selfies" being so tied to social identity, we have seen quite an uptick in the number of rhinoplasties performed each year. When teens present subtle issues we often defer their request for surgery for a later time, especially if there is a perceived lack of insight from either the patient or the parent. However, when the patient is the subject of bullying which is often the case, we find that it is reasonable to operate at a slightly younger age to help with self-esteem and socialization.
How young is too young to have plastic surgery when it comes to breast procedures, nose procedures and lip fillers?
It really depends on the procedure. For rhinoplasty I don't like to operate before age 16 unless there is a very good reason such as congenital deformity. Even at that age I often try to assess the urgency and defer until a later time, preferring to operate after the patient has completed their high school education. It offers a transition time for many individuals to redefine themselves. As far as breast augmentation I do not perform them unless the patient is 18 or older. The same goes for lip fillers. Augmentation and fillers are enhancements, whereas rhinoplasty is often to make someone look like they don't stand out. When it comes to enhancement, I believe one needs to be an adult.
Have you been getting requests for Kylie Jenner’s lip filler work or for some other celebrity’s procedure or body or facial feature?
Kylie Jenner's lips have replaced Angelina Jolie's as the single most requested feature that patients come in looking for. But in today's "micro-celebrity" environments there are a surprising number of "Instagram famous" people who are getting attention. During consultations patients will sometimes whip out their phone and pull up a profile of a person who has a million followers with no real celebrity status. But they may have a beautiful body, or a certain feature that makes them stand out. Jen Selter, who is famous for her butt and not much more, is one example.
Do you think a lot of teens and their parents have unrealistic expectations and how do you handle that kind of patient?
I think that teens that come in looking for surgery often have parents who have gone through the process. I think there are a lot of mother-daughter conversations beforehand, to the tune of "How come you get to do this and I don't?" Sometimes, the parent is more than happy to hear the words: "You are too young." It takes the pressure off them to comply with their teen's wants. It’s rare that we have parents pushing a teen into plastic surgery and when I encounter those situations I work very carefully to determine the dynamic of the situation. The last thing that I want to do is to take a teen to surgery when it really is their parent who is unhappy. It is crucial to give teens the chance to say, "I really don't want this." As far as expectations for outcomes, it really depends on the patient. Patients who have done their homework tend to be realistic; those who impulsively schedule a consultation without doing their homework are more likely to be disappointed with the consultation. The final expectation is dependent on the surgeon. I only offer what I can accomplish; it makes no practical sense to say you can do something that you cannot.
These are some incredibly thoughtful answers from a surgeon who really seems to care about the overall well-being of a patient and the implications of these procedures which are on the rise. If you are the parent of a teen who is interested in getting surgery, I’d suggest having him/her read Dr. Khorsandi’s comments before they make any definitive decisions.