In the world of plastic surgery, a very controversial topic is at what age should one have plastic surgery, particularly a cosmetic procedure. With rich parents and a huge focus on how one looks, younger women (and some women) are looking at plastic surgery as an option to change what they do not like about their body. MTV has a program that includes mostly younger folks called "I Want A Famous Face." Discovery Health Channel recently did a story on plastic surgery for people 18 and under.
While the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) has guidelines for certain procedures for people under 18, in most cases it is entirely up to the patient, her/his parents, and the plastic surgeon to decide if to have plastic surgery and when. In other countries, such guidelines do not exist or are not followed. So if you opt for plastic surgery overseas, as long as you have the desire and the finances, you can have anything you want. In fact reports from the United States and Japan say that the latest craze is for mothers and daughters to go under the knife together (generally it means the same day since they want the same surgeon to work on them).
What procedures may be appropriate for people 18 and Under?
In a recent episode on Discovery Health Channel, they highlighted four teens who go under the knife in pursuit of the perfect look. Jenna, who was always (as early as 13) very conscious of her flat body opted for an enlargement for her 18th birthday since the doctors wouldn't perform the surgery prior to that. Her parents are plastic surgery advisors and they supported her decision all along.
Ivanna had the opposite problem and she chose a reduction procedure. Now I support Ivanna's decision since in my opinion this is a "deformity" and needs to be fixed either for health reasons (back problems) or for personal reasons (self-esteem, harassment by others, etc.). I am not sure if Jenna did the right thing. She wanted to change her A to a full B or C.
Now two other cases that were highlighted and I think both were perfect cases for plastic surgery because they were about fixing a problem. A 10-year-old went under the knife for correcting her prominent ears. She was constantly teased by her classmates for her awkward looking face. It was also a nightmare for her to be in ballet class and face some teasing from fellow dancers. (Related article: Plastic surgery goes mainstream)
Finally, a 12-year-old fixed her webbed neck. If you might not know, a webbed neck is present at birth and is a genetic disorder. Not only can it make a person look awkward, it can also make your speech difficult to understand. Sammy's mother put it well, "My daughter simply wants to be like everyone else in the school."
So how to decide if the time is right for plastic surgery before 18?
If it is a deformity of some sort, then the decision is easy and can be taken in consultation with the surgeon. However, if you want to go under the knife for what I call "vanity," then you might want to wait till you are 18 to figure out what you want and how bad you want it. As teenagers, we are likely to be rash. We want the perfect bodies and are willing to do anything just to blend in. As we grow older, we develop a better appreciation for beauty and what to do to develop our self esteem.
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