Plastic surgeons have performed operations on patients of all ages, with the bulk of surgery on young patients being reconstructive in nature for acquired or congenital deformities. Rhinoplasty, or nose jobs, may be indicated for girls as young as 16 years of age, and are acceptable in appropriately selected candidates in that age group. Other procedures, such as liposuction for gynecomastia correction in teenage boys, or ear pinning for protruding ears in girls or boys, are also common in a younger patient population. Increasing use of internet and media with visual and photographic components with concomitant exposure to an ever expanding audience has placed greater emphasis on appearance, and has had a noticeable impact on the number of plastic surgeries performed. Chin implants, for instance, saw a significant increase over the last few years, and this has been partly attributed to the use of video chat on cell phones.

Often the distinction between cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery is blurred. Some conditions are congenital and yet surgery to correct them may seem entirely cosmetic. Breast hypoplasia where one or both breasts are significantly underdeveloped with potential asymmetry may manifest during adolescence, and cause significant psychological issues for affected girls. Correction involves breast augmentation with use of implants, although silicone implants are only approved for women older than 22 years of age. Conversely, excessive breast development leading to significant breast enlargement may produce physical problems including back and neck pain, poor posture and difficulty engaging in activities such as exercise. In these patients, breast reduction surgery using liposuction or a short scar technique may lessen symptoms and improve lifestyle.

Purely cosmetic beauty treatments such as Botox injections to lessen frown lines and crows feet are being sought by younger patients, often in their 20’s. Patients who present for these types of procedures should be carefully evaluated prior to treatment, because not all may be appropriate candidates. Although there is no absolute age contraindication, it behooves plastic surgeons to use sound medical judgement in identifying patients who would benefit from such interventions. Prevention of skin damage with avoidance of sun exposure, proper nutrition and daily skin care should be stressed before embarking on minimally invasive plastic surgery treatments.

Dr. Olivia Hutchinson is a board certified plastic surgeon who specializes in aesthetic surgery of the face, breast and body. Her office is located in Manhattan, NYC and is equipped with a AAAASF certified Operating Room. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Hutchinson, please contact us or call us at (212) 452-1400.

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