It is important to point out that much of plastic surgery is not cosmetic surgery, but rather, reconstructive surgery. For example, children born with cleft lip and palates, and fingers that are joined together (syndactyly). No one would argue that these surgeries should be postponed until much later in life. So the question is really, when is cosmetic surgery appropriate? As is true with all good questions, there is often no simple answer. There is no magic age, but many considerations to take into account for various procedures.
One of the more common plastic surgery procedures done for children is otoplasty. This in simple terms means that the child’s ears stick out and the otoplasty corrects this problem. Everyone knows that children can be cruel and be mean. I have had young children brought to me by their parents, wanting to know when they should have the surgery. What I tell the parents is the following: “I would wait until the child begs for the surgery.” Many times when I ask the child, they are not concerned. It is the parents who worry about the possibility of their child being teased. It is my personal belief that if the surgery is done before any teasing begins, the child will be given the impression that there is something wrong with them, that the parents are forcing them to correct. Clearly, this is not an ideal situation. I explain to the parents that their child may never encounter any problems from their ears, in which case, there is no reason to undergo the surgery. It is best to wait until the child requests it to begin the consultation process.
Most professionals would agree the young woman’s breasts should have stopped increasing in size for at least six months before considering options. The youngest woman I have completed a breast reduction for was 17 years old, but I had been in discussion with her and her parents for over a year. As a surgeon, I want to make sure that the patient fully understands and has the maturity to deal with the surgery and the potential scarring, etc.
I have completed breast augmentation on several young women who were graduating high school, who had their parents’ full support. Currently, the FDA has only approved silicone breast augmentation for women over 22 years of age. Thus, I use saline implants only for these young women. There clearly has to be a maturity level and emotional stability for these young women, but I personally think it is fine for them to have this procedure when they are graduating from high school.
I don’t believe there is a magic age for this surgery. It would really depend on the level of anxiety one’s labial appearance is causing them, how realistic their expectations are for the surgery and a gut feeling about her reasons for the surgery. Years ago, I saw a young woman in her very early 20’s who wanted a labiaplasty. After talking with her, she told me that she had been sexually assaulted and her labia reminded her of the incident. I strongly encouraged her to get counseling and she agreed. She has never returned for surgery which tells me that the solution was likely therapy and not surgery. In general, I think most women should be at least in their 20’s.
SmartLipo & Lid Blepharoplasty:
I have seen a few women in their early 20’s who have had congenital fullness in the neck area, who did great after I did Smartlipo on her neck. I have also had a young woman in her early 20’s who congenial bags under her lower lids that did very well with the lower lid blepharoplasty that I did for her.
Botox & Fillers:
There is absolutely no role for putting in Botox and fillers in advance of needing them. It is extremely unlikely that a woman in her teens would need these, and I’d say the same for those in their early 20’s. I have put lip fillers (Volbella is a one) in women in their 20’s. I believe this should be done gradually, and the goal should be a natural look. I always caution these young women, and older woman too, to go gradual and aim for a natural look – and not to emulate some of the Hollywood stars, who I feel have gone way overboard.
I think that in the society we live in, there will be a push for teenagers to have more and more cosmetic surgery, earlier and earlier, which I personally do not think will be a good thing. There should always be careful consideration given to cosmetic procedures.
If you have questions about any procedures you are considering, please call my office at 703-406-2444 to schedule a private, complimentary consultation with me.