Despite the documented risks, the general public has an inflated sense of the benefits and a minimized sense of the risks of plastic surgery.
Teenagers are often oblivious to the well-documented long-term health consequences of smoking, tanning, and other risky behaviors, and are likely to pay even less attention to the risks of cosmetic surgery, making informed consent difficult.
One way to help ensure that teenagers are mature enough to make decisions about plastic surgery is to screen potential patients using psychological testing.
In media interviews, plastic surgeons often describe careful interviews aimed at determining why the teen wants plastic surgery.
Breast implants also interfere with mammography and increase the likelihood of that a woman won’t produce enough milk when trying to breastfeed.
Women who seek breast implants are more likely to have body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), which is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as “a preoccupation with an imagined or slight defect in appearance that leads to significant impairment in functioning.” Since the goal of cosmetic surgery is to improve and transform appearance, it may be difficult to distinguish between this desire and a pathological preoccupation.Currently, there is no evidence that effective screening is widespread.Teens expect that plastic surgery will improve their self-confidence, but does it?However, cultural phenomena such as surgical makeovers on numerous television programs and unrelenting pressures on teens to conform to beauty standards make it increasingly difficult to agree on what constitutes a “normal” appearance and when the desire to improve one’s appearance is questionable or even crosses the line to psychopathology.In this commentary, I will focus on elective, cosmetic procedures on an otherwise healthy adolescent with no illness or impairment.Research is especially needed for the more controversial procedures such as breast implants, liposuction, and genital plastic surgery.There is no question that reconstructive surgeries can benefit children and youth.In 2015 alone, 7,840 girls and young women between the ages of 13 and 19 underwent breast augmentation surgery, with an additional 1,797 teens receiving breast lifts.Silicone gel breast implants were approved by the FDA in 2006, but only for women ages 22 and older.There are no empirical studies examining the long-term benefits among adolescents.One study found that body-image satisfaction improved after cosmetic surgery, but so did satisfaction among girls and boys not undergoing cosmetic surgery.