Teens turn to plastic surgery; experts tackle the when and why

Published: Tuesday, March 12 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

She also warns that teens may think they know what they want, but the brain's decision-making functions aren't mature until about age 25. "If you haven't solved why you feel as you do about yourself, there are few things you can do externally to erase internal issues."

The advice

Advice for parents from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons includes making sure a teen's growth would not hampered, checking maturity and expectations, checking a doctor's credentials (states permit any licensed physician to claim to be a cosmetic surgeon whether trained as one or not; board certification is good), the facility's accreditation and whether the surgeon has operating privileges in an accredited hospital for that procedure.

"There are so many emotional dangers involved for teens that receive plastic surgery for cosmetic and not health reasons," said Erica Ives, marriage and family therapist and author of "Eating Disorders: Decode the Controlled Chaos." "As if developing an identity, striving for increased autonomy, building a sense of self, dealing with the immense physical changes and the tumultuous mood changes, along with evolving peer relationships, is not enough to deal with being a teenager. Bringing cosmetic plastic surgery in the mix is something that should be done with great caution and professional direction."

Not all plastic surgery is the result of teasing or bullying, "but it's clear more teens are undergoing invasive, sometimes dangerous procedures simply to feel they fit in," said Traci S. Campbell, coach, youth advocate and author of a motivational book and workbook called "The C.H.A.M.P. Within." "A far healthier alternative is to develop the character and confidence necessary to navigate adolescence with respect for yourself — and others.

"How much power are you giving the bullies?" she asked, referring to the girl who had surgery because of bullies. "There are kids at every high school who are not aesthetically popular, but are popular because of how they carry themselves. Just because (she) took the action of plastic surgery does not inoculate her from bullying. ... We don't know the end of that story."

EMAIL: lois@desnews.com, Twitter: Loisco

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