Self-esteem and self-confidence are not ageist. They do not discriminate and the old and young alike are subject to low levels of self-worth. Sometimes they are the result of physical aesthetic imperfections, and correcting these imperfections surgically used to be a luxury reserved only for adults who could afford the costly procedures. However, there is a recent trend in teenagers and young adults seeking medical interventions for their unhappiness.
In the United States, plastic surgery procedures on young people between thirteen and nineteen years old has been qualified as “mainstream” and the spokesperson for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Dr. Frederick Lukash, estimates that almost three hundred thousands teenagers went under the knife in 2008. Those numbers have only increased in the following years. Essentially, teenagers are hoping that the procedures will “cure” whatever issues they are suffering from but they should be warned that it is unlikely. This idea typically plagues the psyches of young women in the midst of development. They are excessively exposed to unrealistic depictions of perfection and define their worth in terms in physical ideals. Moreover, in the never-ending quest for societal approval, these imperfections are magnified, appearing both intolerable yet easily resolved with a breast enhancement or a rhinoplasty.
Plastic surgery for teens is not always wrong. Dr. Lukash has seen many cases where a teenaged patient’s quality of life has improved exponentially because of a procedure. But he warns that surgery on a teenaged patient should be the exception, not the rule. He wrote “The Safe and Sane Guide to Teenage Plastic Surgery” to aid parents and potential patients about the risks and concerns of surgery. If a teenager is seriously considering plastic surgery, they should first talk to a therapist. Low self-esteem levels could be the result of underlying issues and the opinion of a therapist could be beneficial before putting oneself through a painful and expensive procedure with an undesirable result.
Furthermore, if a teenaged patient decides to go ahead with the procedure, it is of the utmost importance that they seek out a board-certified plastic surgeon. Doctors should not be concerned with the money that the patient represents, but with genuinely improving their quality of life. A consultation is a two-way interview and the surgeon should not be afraid to turn a patient away if their expectations are not manageable. There are always risks with any surgery and it is irresponsible to take on such a risk without proper research and the guidance of qualified and trusted medical professionals.