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Is Plastic Surgery Ever a Good Idea for Teens?

Is Plastic Surgery Ever a Good Idea for Teens?

Teenagers who get plastic surgery may have far different reasons for seeking a change, than adults. Teens often want cosmetic procedures to fit in with their age group, but adults often have surgery to standout in the crowd or look better. It isn’t uncommon for teenagers to want to correct flaws that make them feel ‘awkward’ or different from their peers. Longtime plastic surgeon, Dr. Mark Epstein supports plastic surgery for teenagers, if its done for the right reasons and in general for reconstructive purposes. Dr. Epstein lays out his TOP FOUR COSMETIC PROCEDURES FOR TEENAGERS and discusses why these surgeries are appropriate for children.

By Dawn Tongish

Plastic Surgery Is Right For Teens

Each year thousands of people have plastic surgery and of those, many are under age 18. It is estimated that in 2014, about 64,000 cosmetic surgery patients were between the ages of 13-19, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. There are numerous reasons why teenagers seek out plastic surgery, but topping the list is a desire to stop feeling like an outsider. Many times, a child just wants to feel ‘normal’. Some top doctors agree that there are conditions that need to be surgically fixed before adulthood. “When we think about teens and plastic surgery we are all thinking teens and cosmetic surgery and we aren’t thinking that much that what we are doing is really about reconstructive procedures,” says Dr. Mark Epstein. Epstein, who practices in Stony Brook, New York thinks there should be more discussion about teens and plastic surgery to highlight an issue that too often is considered taboo or off limits. “It’s such an important topic that needs to be out in the open.”

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Otoplasty – Prominent Ears

It is a condition that is often referred to as ‘Dumbo Ears’ and can lead to cruel taunting on the school playground. The surgery involves the correction of protruding ears, in which the ears are pinned back and may be performed after the age of five or so. This procedure makes up about 11 percent of all cosmetic procedures in children. Epstein says it is one surgery that is performed on the very young. “The reality is when a child is around six-years old the ear is fully grown and that kid can become a target for bullying at school. That is one reason why we will operate on a child so young.” The difference is remarkable and children often experience a big boost in self-esteem. “When you take the before pictures, they are never smiling and then you take the after pictures and the hair is pulled back and they are showing off their new ears. It does do a lot for their esteem.”

Breast Reduction

Enduring overly large breasts can be a physical and psychological burden for a teenage girl, according to many experts. Many teenagers can suffer back pain due to the size of their breasts. Dr. Epstein says the weight of having big breasts is often a mental strain for a teen girl. “When a young girl is being teased and she doesn’t feel good in her clothes and she can’t go to gym class and exercise with her friends, that is an awful thing to endure.” In recent years, the popularity of breast reduction for girls and young women has grown. About 4,600 of these surgeries were performed in 2010, an operation which Epstein performs. “These girls need relief just like any other woman. When I can do a procedure like this, it can be life-changing for a girl.”


It isn’t exactly a procedure that most people talk about, improving the looks of  ‘down there’, but teenage girls are seeking out labiaplasty. The surgical procedure removes excess tissue from the labia, making it smaller. Dr. Epstein says it is often done for hygienic reasons or cosmetic reasons. “The problems are often time appearance. The girls are self-conscious to the extent that when they stand up, the skin hangs over the outer lips and that is distressing.” Epstein says that unlike women, who are usually sexually active, teenage girls are not. It’s important to correct the issue before a girl becomes intimate. “This can cause problems later, so we usually try to perform the surgery about 16-years old, if she is done growing.”

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It is without a doubt, THE MOST SOUGHT AFTER PROCEDURE among teenagers. “The most common procedure that is done in teens, is the rhinoplasty,” says Epstein. Rhinoplasty accounts for about half of all plastic surgery procedures in the teenage age group. Epstein says there is a burning desire among young girls and boys to reshape the nose, to in general improve the look of the face. “This is a spot where most people are very self-conscious. The nose is so important to the appearance of the face, and the face is so important in our society.” Usually, this surgery is not performed until the nose reaches its adult size. Epstein has rules that he follows. “I will ordinarily perform the surgery at about 15 in girls and 16 in boys. I wait until the facial skeleton is developed.” Overall, Epstein says he thinks teenagers who feel they can benefit with improved appearance and a boost in self-confidence should consider cosmetic surgery. “I don’t think there is a downside to that.”

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