A recent DailyMail report about teens in the U.K. opting for risky cosmetic procedures has raised concerns among industry experts. According to the report, children as young as 14 are getting cosmetic surgery such as lip augmentation, which the National Health Service (NHS) says can be administered without medical training and poses many risks, including a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. Experts point out that this clearly indicates the need for stricter regulations.
It’s become quite for teens to seek plastic surgery to enhance their looks by improving on a physical trait, to fit in with their peers, stop getting bullied, and boost their self-esteem. Many youngsters are driven to have cosmetic procedures by the social media and selfie trend. Back-to-school procedures are also gaining popularity. Many teens find vacations the right time to undergo an aesthetic treatment as it gives them time to recover.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), teens accounted for only 2% of the total number of cosmetic procedures performed in 2014. The most common procedures for teens were nose surgery, male breast reduction, ear surgery, laser hair removal and laser skin resurfacing. A total of 224,000 total cosmetic procedures were performed on teenagers, a rise of 2% over 2013. Of these, 64,000 were surgical and 161,000 were minimally-invasive (which rose 3% from 2013). These numbers are bound to rise, say reports.
In the U.S., the minimum age is defined for a procedure like breast implant surgery: saline-filled breast implants can be used for breast augmentation only in women 18-years or older and silicone gel implants in women age 22 and older. ASPS clearly recognizes that not all teenagers seeking plastic surgery are suitable candidates for a procedure. As with any surgery, ASPS has made parental consent necessary for all plastic surgery procedures performed on those younger than 18 years old.
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) has put down clear guidelines for plastic surgeons evaluating teenagers requesting cosmetic plastic surgery:
- Assessment of physical maturity: The feature that the candidate wishes to change should be fully developed or else surgery would interfere with its growth, and dissipate the benefits of surgery in later years.
- Evaluation of emotional maturity and expectations: The teenager should be fully aware about the benefits and limitations of the proposed procedure, and also have realistic expectations.
- Expression of interest by the candidate: The teenager should have initiated the request for the procedure. Parental support is essential but the teenager’s desire for the procedure must be clearly expressed and have been repeated over a period of time.
Patients should ensure that the plastic or cosmetic surgeon they choose is qualified and experienced and operates in an accredited ambulatory or office-based facility, the facility. Teens and their parents should also fully understand the risks of surgery, postsurgical restrictions on activity, and standard recovery times.