The Staggering Rise in Teenage Plastic Surgery
HEY MOM, CAN I HAVE A JUICE BOX AND SOME BOTOX?
When I was a teenager, my biggest tools in the beauty arsenal consisted of cans of Aqua-net hairspray, a pair of skintight Jordache jeans (that could only be worn after a fierce struggle involving me lying flat on my back and kicking my legs to shimmy the denim up) and a comb in my back pocket (to tease my crunchy bangs.)
At the time, cosmetic surgery was unheard of for girls my age. We were interested in posters of a young Don Johnson wading through the crystal waters of Miami Beach wearing a white mesh t-shirt and pastel pink pants. We were interested in singing along to the annoyingly persistent lyrics of Dead or Alive: “You spin me right round baby, right round, like a record baby, right round, round, round.” We were interested in Pizza Hut, Lemon-Lime Slice, and banana Bubblicious gum.
Words like Botox, teeth whitening, breast augmentation, and cosmetic surgery weren’t in our vocabulary. If someone broke their nose playing volleyball, they typically went to prom and had their photos taken sideways.
And yet, what twelve year old girl today doesn’t wish she was twenty after seeing the rocking life styles wielded by Hollywood’s young A-list reality stars: the Britney’s, Lohans, and Hiltons.
HTEXAS recently sat down with Dr. Franklin Rose of Utopia Med Spa, who was flown out to Los Angeles and featured on a teenage plastic surgery special of the Dr. Phil Show, in order to find out more about the dramatic rise in teenage plastic surgery.
HTEXAS: When is it considered safe for teenage patients to seek out plastic surgery?
Dr. Rose: It is common for patients around age 15 or 16 to undergo cosmetic rhinoplasty if they wish to improve the appearance of the nose. In certain patients, breast reductions can be performed quite safely. We have also performed liposuction on patients around 16 or 17, that gives them enhanced self esteem, and a reason to lose additional weight beyond what we can remove with liposuction.
HTEXAS: You mentioned breast reductions. What about implant surgery?
Dr. Rose: In terms of breast augmentation, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons has really mandated that patients wait until 18 years of age.
HTEXAS: Have you ever turned down a young patient for being too young?
Dr. Rose: One particular case comes to mind. Several years ago a patient’s mother came in with her pre-pubescent daughter. She informed me that she was in receipt of a rather significant divorce settlement. The mother mentioned to me that “money would be no issue” if I could operate on this very small 4’6” pre-pubescent eleven year old. The mother wanted cheek and lip implants and facial lipo-contouring, and the daughter actually wanted it, too. I adamantly refused to do surgery on this young girl, and the child burst into tears because her best friend who was also eleven years old evidently just had the same procedures done in New York City.
HTEXAS: What is the effect of television and magazines on teenagers seeking out plastic surgery?
Dr. Rose: Patients come to me with magazines in hand about who they want to look like. People Magazine and US Magazine feature young girls who’ve had these procedures.
HTEXAS: On the Dr. Phil show you discuss the Lolita effect. Describe this.
Dr. Rose: The Lolita Effect is the increased sexualized depiction of young teens and prepubescent girls in society at large. Childhood is no longer the sacred realm that it once was. It’s not so much peer pressure as it is cultural pressure for these children to want to mimic adults.
HTEXAS: What are the safeguards for teenagers wanting plastic surgery who won’t take “no” for an answer?
Dr. Rose: Really the family should be the best support system in this regard. Choosing a board certified plastic surgeon carefully and wisely is a good caveat for all families. Of course any patient under the age of 18 requires parental or legal guardian approval.
HTEXAS: Give us the percentage of teenage patients.
Dr. Rose: Teenage patients only encompass about 2 – 5% of our practice, but we are seeing ever increasing numbers of college students, particularly during break periods.
HTEXAS: What is the bottom line for teenage plastic surgery?
Dr. Rose: There is always time. Teenagers have no reason to rush into these procedures. And of course as we age, we are going to look somewhat different, and sometimes young adults need to allow for further growth before entertaining thoughts of plastic and reconstructive surgery.