Surgery

Rhinoplasty more popular among teens

In 2008, doctors practiced nearly 219,000 cosmetic surgeries on young people aged 13 to 19, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Some of these elective surgeries in numbers:

Rhinoplasty (nose remodeling): more than 38,000 patients
Otoplasty (ear surgery): more than 8,000 patients
Breast enlargement: nearly 9,000 patients aged 18 and 19 years
Breast reduction: more than 5,000 patients aged 13-19 years

“Adolescents often undergo plastic surgery to better integrate with their peers, to resemble them, while adults generally submit to distinguish themselves,” says Julia Corcoran, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Surgery at Northwestern University. Adolescents may have better self-esteem and feel more confident when what they see as a physical problem is corrected.

However, plastic surgery is not done for all young people. Some interventions require the young person to have attained a certain age and physical and mental maturity. In addition, most reliable surgeons will not perform any interventions until the young person has demonstrated adequate emotional maturity and realistic expectations.

The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery proposes to follow these guidelines for facial surgeries:

The bones of a young person’s face must be fully trained before performing plastic surgery. The bone of the jaw, for example, is one of the last bones of the face to be consolidated.
The adolescent must have realistic expectations about the outcome of surgery. The surgeon should discuss the healing process and possible complications with you and your child.

“Sometimes it’s parents who want surgery,” says former SSPA President James H. Wells, a California physician and plastic surgeon. “To really know what the patient wants, I consult him without his parents. Their aspirations do not always agree.

An 18-year-old girl with very bulky or uneven breasts can be a good candidate for surgery. But Dr. Wells disapproves parents who offer breast implants to their daughter as a gift at the end of high school. “You start a cycle of surgeries, every 10 to 15 years, for the rest of your life,” he says. This is a really important decision.

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