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Summary: Plastic surgery for teenagers is usually a complex topic. And it should be. For starters, anyone who’s been a teenager knows that they can be quite fickle by nature. No one wants to give a teen a nose job that he or she will regret years down the road. That said, plastic surgery for teens is more popular than ever. What are some of the factors driving that popularity?

Looking at How Social Media is Making Plastic Surgery for Teens More Popular

Teens are not usually the target market for any plastic surgery procedure–or plastic surgeon. But it’s possible that social media is making plastic surgery for teens more popular than ever. According to a study written by Dr. Rod J. Rohrich and Dr. Min-Jeong Cho in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 2017 saw a significant increase in the number of teens undergoing plastic surgery procedures.

Drs. Rohrich and Cho ascribe this increase, at least in part, to the increased importance social media plays in the lives of these individual teens. The Drs then proscribe some guidelines they feel will improve the efficacy and the ethics of performing plastic surgery on teens.

But is social media truly the culprit here, or are there other social forces at work that might be playing into the reasons why teens might be getting more plastic surgery than ever before? We’re going to take a look just how social media might play into these decisions and the development of body-image issues that then make plastic surgery seem like a good decision. Ultimately, plastic surgery is going to be a good choice for some of these teens–so surgeons are working very hard to ensure that they have guidelines to determine when it’s best to treat and when it’s best not to treat. Because plastic surgery for teens is more popular than ever, so too are these guidelines.

Do Selfies Increase Plastic Surgery?

The study by Drs. Rohrich and Cho define a teen as an individual between the ages of 13-19. It’s a useful enough definition. And when they see an increase in plastic surgery in this age group, they make the connection with the rise in the use of social media. These days, social media is essentially inescapable–from SnapChat to Discord to Instagram.

Speaking of social media, we’ve written pretty extensively over the years about how selfies and plastic surgery have a kind of relationship. It’s not exactly that selfies cause plastic surgery. That’s far too simplistic.

Rather, it’s more like this: selfies make it harder to ignore that which you do not like about the way you look. According to the study published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the average teen will take something like 25,000 selfies in his or her lifetime. (Now, it might be useful to compare that to how many pictures of oneself somebody typically sees in a lifetime, but the study didn’t do that).

Seeing Yourself 25,000 Times

If you see yourself 25,000 times, it’s possible that one of two things will happen:

  • You see yourself so often that you become quite familiar with your face. That familiarity allows you to notice your own face in more detail than you otherwise would. That might lead to some anxiety or self-conscious feelings.
  • You are aware of a flaw, and that flaw bothers you–but seeing that flaw 25,000 times makes it harder to dismiss and, instead, makes plastic surgery a more tempting solution. In other words, it’s the exposure to whatever you feel is a flaw that exacerbates the way you feel about it.

These two pathways are, of course, not mutually exclusive. But it’s important to establish that only very rarely do selfies actually create issues in the first place.

Social Media and Society

It’s also important to note that neither social media nor plastic surgery exist within a vacuum. Our notions of beauty and aesthetics (which are socially constructed in a complex way over time) have a lot to do with what’s happening here. In other words, without this bedrock of social beauty (and the amount of social capital it affords you), selfies would hold significantly less sway over how you feel about how you look.

That’s complicated, I know. It’s even more complicated for teens, who are still trying to figure out who they are.

Teens and Plastic Surgery

That’s one of the primary reason that caution is almost always required when treating teenagers with plastic surgery. The guidelines proposed by Drs. Cho and Rohrich are broken down by age and procedure type. For example, it suggests that male patients who want a rhinoplasty be at least fifteen years old before undergoing the procedure. They have similar guidelines for many different procedures, but especially those popular with teenagers.

Teens and plastic surgery is always going to be a somewhat sensitive topic–as it should be. Any procedure on a teen should be undertaken thoughtfully and carefully. These guidelines, in theory, will help with that. The important thing is that anyone who does undergo plastic surgery procedures ends up happy and satisfied with the results. And that’s true no matter how old they are.

References

  • Rohrich, Rod J., and Min-Jeong Cho. “When Is Teenage Plastic Surgery versus Cosmetic Surgery Okay? Reality versus Hype.” Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, vol. 142, no. 3, 2018, doi:10.1097/prs.0000000000004630.
  • Thompson. “Study Suggests More Teens Are Getting Plastic Surgery Because Of Social Media.” Vibe, Vibe, 2 Sept. 2018, www.vibe.com/2018/09/study-more-teens-are-getting-plastic-surgery-because-of-social-media/.
  • Rohrich, Rod. “When Is Plastic Surgery Appropriate for Teenagers?” American Society of Plastic Surgeons, American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 9 Feb. 2018, www.plasticsurgery.org/news/blog/when-is-plastic-surgery-appropriate-for-teenagers.

About the Author: Dan Voltz has been writing about plastic and cosmetic surgery for over five years. He believes that these topics can be more interesting–and more confusing–than they might at first appear, and thinks discussion about these things is always a good thing!

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