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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Plastic surgery not for teens

It seems that Americans live in an image-obsessed society, where they often judge solely on the way we look. For many people, their teenage years are some of the most difficult. During this time, teenagers place a lot of their self-esteem and confidence in their physical appearance, and peers are often quick to judge by this as well. The growing trend of teenagers turning to cosmetic plastic surgery to change or improve their looks reflects the weight that our society places on a person’s outer beauty. And while some plastic surgeries performed on adolescents are needed and warranted, many are not, and none of these procedures should be decided upon hastily. Careful thought and deliberation must be put into such an important decision due to the consequences, both good and bad, that can result from unnecessary surgeries.
Plastic surgery is not just for the rich and famous anymore, and the average age of the patients continues to drop. The number of people having cosmetic plastic surgery has tripled since 1992, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, with breast augmentation increasing 533 percent and liposuction increasing 313 percent. While young adults age 18 or younger made up only 4 percent of all cosmetic surgery patients in 2001, that is still an astonishing 303,103 people. More young people are having plastic surgery than ever, and this is not necessarily good.
Teenagers who express a desire to have plastic surgery are often trying to improve physical characteristics that they feel are awkward or flawed, and may achieve gains in self-esteem and confidence when these problems are corrected, according to plasticsurgery.org. Certainly some cases warrant such an extreme solution, such as severe facial burns or scars.
But most cases do not. Take 15-year-old British teenager Jenna Franklin. Jenna brought teenage plastic surgery to the forefront of media attention when she asked her parents to have her breasts enlarged from a size 34A to a size 34C or D for her 16th birthday, and they agreed to pay for the surgery. According to news.bbc.co.uk, Jenna said she had made this decision at age 14, adding, “You’ve got to have breasts to be successful.”
The fact that some parents and doctors are allowing procedures like this to be performed based on such ridiculous teenage motivations and whims is ludicrous. As Ruth Coppard, a child psychologist, told the BBC, “Emotionally, she (Jenna) is at risk by making a decision now when she’s a child that will have long-term repercussions that she can’t consider yet; she hasn’t got the perspective.”
According to brainevent.com, some cosmetic surgeries can be dangerous because foreign material, such as an implant, is inserted into the body and can be rejected. Plastic surgery is a heightened risk for teenagers because their bodies are still growing, changing, and developing, and it is not always clear how a procedure will affect the patient years later. Since the human body isn’t always fully developed before a person turns 18, the cosmetic changes teenagers have done may change and possibly become distorted as they get older.
Some teenagers believe plastic surgery is a quick fix for their physical, and in turn, their emotional problems, and this simply is not the case. As brainevent.com states, “Looks don’t directly translate into feelings. Plastic surgery may be a quick fix, but it doesn’t prepare people for the things that can’t be so easily snipped and tucked in the real world.” Opponents to teenage plastic surgery feel that some teenagers are picking the easiest and fastest solution while actually avoiding the root of the problem, according to miami.edu.
The procedures themselves are also very expensive, usually as much as several thousand dollars, and the majority of such operations are not covered by health insurance.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has no formal position on cosmetic plastic surgery for teenagers, but does state on its Web site that the most rewarding outcomes are expected when the teenager initiates the request, possesses realistic goals, and has sufficient maturity. They must avoid unrealistic expectations about life changes that will occur as a result of the procedure, and not every teenager seeking plastic surgery is well-suited for an operation.
Plastic surgery cannot produce miracles, and if teenagers are going into it with that type of mindset, they are wrong. Cosmetic surgery shouldn’t be a first option, and cannot be taken lightly. It will change the patient’s life, and in ways they may not have expected.

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