Plastic surgery is a medical procedure to correct a physical abnormality, ranging from liposuction to correction of a cleft lip and palate. Often times, people from other countries will come to America, hoping to receive plastic surgery because it is easily accessible and cheaper than other countries. It is not uncommon to encounter an adult who has had plastic surgery for a health reason or for aesthetic purposes, but it is now becoming increasingly popular in adolescents. More and more children want to change things about their physical appearance because of bullying and social media. The celebrities in modern society, such as Kylie Jenner and Nicki Minaj, have gotten plastic surgery to correct things that they do not like. The actions of these celebrities, along with other factors such as bullying, have influenced children to have the desire for plastic surgery to make them look more desirable. There are, however, many other factors when adolescents decide to have plastic surgery. Many complications can happen from plastic surgery in general, and even more can arise when it is done on adolescents.
The issue with adolescents wanting plastic surgery is that their bodies are not fully developed. In females, their bodies typically finish developing after two or three years of menstruation. Males finish maturing slower than females, in which their bodies can fully finish developing in their early twenties. Because these changes happen so much later in their life, the effects of plastic surgery later in life as their bodies change can alter the original intention of plastic surgery. In an article published by Diana Zuckerman, PHD on “Teens and Cosmetic Surgery,” the effects of plastic surgery on a growing female are explained after the female receives the surgery and her body developing later. Zuckerman writes, “In addition to development that may occur in the late teens, growth charts indicate that the average young woman gains weight between the ages of 18 and 21, and that is likely to change her desire or need for breast augmentation and liposuction” (2012). This explains that physical changes to a woman’s body can not only change her body, effecting the plastic surgery, it can also change her desire for it. The regret that a woman feels after the plastic surgery has an effect on her appearance and self-esteem. These changes lead to more plastic surgery or surgery in general to change the effects of plastic surgery. The operation leaves an emotional complication from the surgery, as well as a physical complication.
During a typical surgery procedure, cosmetic or plastic, incisions are made. It is common knowledge that if cuts are not protected and taken care of, they can lead to infection and more medical issues. In plastic surgery, these complications can also arise. Although these complications typically occur in other countries where the health codes and sterile equipment aren’t typically regulated, these complications can occur anywhere. Alexandra Sifferlin of Time Magazine writes in “The Dangers of Plastic Surgery Tourism” of women who have had infections from plastic surgery such as rapidly growing mycobacteria (RGM). Sifferlin writes, “How the infections were caused is unknown, but report author Dr. Doug Esposito, a medical epidemiologist with the CDC’s Travelers’ Health Branch, says ‘any breach in sterile technique’ can causes bacteria to get into a person’s wound” (2016). A breach in sterile equipment can happen anywhere in the world, and these complications can be especially dangerous in adolescents. Although their immune systems are fully developed by this age, it is unlikely that they have been exposed to many germs other than a common cold, making it extremely difficult for their bodies to fight infection, even more than adults. Many medicines are not used on children because they do not know the effects on children, typically because it has never had to be used with children before, making treatment options for such infections in adolescents more difficult. The decision for these surgeries are typically made by the patient, and in some cases the parent, but often times, the child is too young to make this decision and is influenced by other things.
Adolescents go through a difficult time of changing their bodies and going through puberty. Some children grow up and mature more quickly than others and their features and bodies are more aesthetically pleasing to others. This typically leads to bullying in other adolescents, influencing their desire to have plastic surgery to change; wishing to change their appearance quickly rather than waiting for their bodies to mature. Other adolescents are influenced by social media and celebrities. Looking daily at these people who influence the American beauty standard make adolescents’ self-esteem diminish and make them want to look like everyone else. This altered perspective on one’s own body image is called Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). Kristina Davis-Kankanamge, MD discusses the mental condition that patients need to be in before they can undergo plastic surgery. Davis-Kankanamge writes, “BDD is a preoccupation with an imagined physical defect or exaggerated concern about a physical defect that would not be apparent to the casual observer. The disorder can also include obsessive behavior. BDD can occur alongside other psychiatric diagnoses such as anxiety, depression, and eating disorders,” (2017). Many adolescents go through bullying that can lead to the discussed disorders or anxiety, depression and eating disorders. These obsessions with body image throughout middle and high school are driving adolescents to get medical procedures done to otherwise healthy and growing bodies. And many of these procedures can be done in ages as young as 6 years old. “By age 6 or 7, a child’s ears are fully grown. If teasing is causing intense emotional strain, corrective surgery, called otoplasty, to reshape the ear cartilage and allow it to fold back against the head can be performed” (Duenwald 2004).
It is now known that plastic surgery is done on fully grown adults as well as not fully developed children. While the procedure is considered dangerous in adults, adolescents are especially at risk for the dangers associated with plastic surgery. It is best that in adolescents, they wait until they are done growing and fully developed before assuming the risk factors of plastic surgery. Their bodies may change as they grow and the price difference between adults and children is not significant. Although there may be may be heath or medical reasons for receiving such surgeries, the most responsible thing for adults and pre-teens to do is wait until the patient is old enough to decide whether they want to have surgery or not so that the number of risks have decreased.