Kent V. Hasen, MD: Aesthetic Plastic Surgery & Med Spa of Naples
3699 Airport Pulling Road North
Naples, FL 34105

Teen Plastic Surgery Considerations

Rites of passage are important in any culture. Many 16 and 17 year olds in the Naples and Fort Myers area are lucky enough to receive a car or SUV to mark their passage into adulthood, but as any parent knows, such a gift is often a huge lesson in responsibility and maturity for a teenager. Increasingly, and often disturbingly, instead of cars parents are purchasing cosmetic surgery for their teens, a gift that also carries a great deal of responsibility. Teen plastic surgery can be seen as a troubling development in a culture that puts too much pressure on teens to be fashion-model beautiful, but it also offers teens the possibility to address issues that weigh heavily on their self-esteem and overall well being.

The Good, the Bad, and the Pretty

In some cases, Americans have a right to be outraged by teen cosmetic surgery. There's something troubling about parents purchasing breast augmentation in the Fort Myers area for their teen daughter, or encouraging whole-body recontouring procedures for teens not fully grown. Dr. Hasen follows the American Society of Plastic Surgeons' guidelines, which basically advise that no one under 18 receive plastic surgery unless there is a compelling reason or reconstructive element. Wanting to look like a celebrity or an Abercrombie & Fitch model is not a compelling reason for teens to go under the knife.

But compelling reasons do exist for teen cosmetic surgery in Naples and Fort Myers. For instance, children and adolescents from age 6 to 16 have routinely undergone otoplasty, or surgery to correct ears that "stick out" far from the head. Even in this day and age, there are still bullies on the playground and in the lunchroom who will tease others about oversize ears. There's no need for a child to be subjected to such ridicule, when a simple, relatively painless otoplasty procedure is available to rein in large ears.

Another compelling case is the teen girl who has suffered through juvenile hypertrophy of the breast, and has breasts that are so large that she stops her school activities and sports and becomes very introverted. Breast reduction surgery can help these young women feel normal again, preventing their breasts from having an impact on their personality development. Young boys who suffer from gynecomastia, or enlarged male breasts, see similar results after breast reduction surgery, and Dr. Hasen is careful to make sure that the underlying causes of the gynecomastia are treated before surgery so that the problem will not return.

Reconstructive plastic surgery also can make a huge difference in a teen's life. For instance, facial or breast deformities can permanently change a teen's outlook and negatively affect their personality and their willingness to connect with their peers. These teens often benefit from early surgical correction, rather than waiting until their 20s when the emotional damage has already been done.

Maturity and Understanding Risk

There's no denying that teens are pressured to conform to a beauty ideal. But often, in these difficult developmental years, teens tend to overlook their individual beauty and fail to appreciate that their bodies are a unique part of themselves. As teens mature, they gain perspective into how they want to present themselves to the world, and only then are they equipped to make life-changing decisions about their physical appearance.

In almost all cases, strictly cosmetic surgery is more appropriate for men and women in their twenties and older, both because these patients are much more mature and because their bodies have finished growing. Maturity is an important factor in any plastic surgery procedure; immature patients often seek impossible perfection, but responsible adults understand that plastic surgery is just one tool in the beauty basket, not a cure for personal problems or a way to become someone else.

Dr. Hasen believes that no one, especially teenagers, should take cosmetic surgery lightly. The changes are permanent and complications can occur. To counter the message teens often hear that plastic surgery is all about glitz and glam, more education is needed on cosmetic surgery risks to help all teens appreciate the difficult decisions that surgery can require.

Parents: Do Your Homework

Dr. Hasen often encounters frustrated parents who don't know what to say to their son or daughter who's considering cosmetic surgery in Florida. He advises these mothers and fathers to try to talk with their teen about the perceived need underlying their child's desire for a cosmetic procedure. Often, if you can get to the bottom of your child's concerns, you can offer non-surgical solutions that in most cases are more fruitful than pushing ahead with a cosmetic procedure. For instance, if your child wants surgery so they will fit in better with their peers, or to satisfy a boyfriend or girlfriend, there are good ways to address the underlying feelings of inadequacy and awkwardness. Also, if legitimate self-esteem issues exist, then discussing those with your teen may help you get comfortable with surgical correction.

Dr. Hasen is more than happy to discuss plastic surgery issues with teens and their parents from Naples, Ft. Myers, Estero, Bonita Springs, Marco Island and other Florida cities. Contact our office at (239) 262-5662 or toll free at (877) 218-8843 for more information.

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