An Important Time of Development

Teenage years are a time of physical, psychological, and emotional development, and there are a number of procedures that may benefit this age group. Most commonly, there is a functional or medical component that warrants correction with plastic surgery. Alternatively, teenagers may wish to improve an aesthetic aspect of their body, such as asymmetry that becomes noticeable during physical development in adolescence.

What are the Most Commonly Performed Procedures for Teens?

  • Rhinoplasty
  • Breast reduction
  • Gynecomastia correction
  • Breast augmentation
  • Labiaplasty 

A Note on Consultations for Teens

When a teenager under the age of 18 is seen in consultation by a plastic surgeon, their parent/guardian must not only be present but must also give consent for any surgery. These consultations include discussions with both the patient and their guardian in order to address all possible aspects of the surgery.

The guardian is also essential in establishing that the patient is an appropriate candidate for surgery, can express their expectations, and understands the necessary aspects of the pre and post-operative instructions. Patient compliance is extremely important in maximizing the chance of achieving an optimal outcome after plastic surgery.

Dr. Hutchinson has extensive experience performing surgery on adolescents and will discuss all options with both the patient and their guardian in order to get the best possible results.

Rhinoplasty for Teens

Rhinoplasty is perhaps the most common cosmetic surgery performed on teenagers. This procedure is done for those with nasal deformity or a deviated septum; who have suffered nasal trauma or fracture; who have visible distortion of the nose, or who have difficulty breathing. The nose develops from late childhood into early adolescence, usually reaching its full size and appearance around age 15-16 years in girls and 16-17 years in boys. This may therefore be a safe age for rhinoplasty to be performed. 

Why Do Teens Choose Rhinoplasty?

Most commonly, teenage patients seek to improve the appearance of their nose by straightening it, reducing the dorsal hump, or refining the appearance of the tip by narrowing it or turning it up. In some teenagers, rhinoplasty is sought out after nasal trauma, which can cause a broken nose or deviated septum. In these patients, if the nasal bones are obviously displaced, it may be necessary to perform corrective rhinoplasty and reduce the nasal fracture immediately after injury.

How is Rhinoplasty Performed?

Rhinoplasty may be performed using either invisible internal incisions hidden inside the nose (called a “closed technique”) or using a small incision on the skin between the nostrils (called an “open technique”). The surgery requires either general anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedation. After the procedure, nasal packing may be kept in place for a day and a nasal splint may be used to stabilize broken nasal bones for one week, after which sutures (if any) would also be removed.

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Breast Reduction for Teens

Breast reduction can be performed on teenage girls with gigantomastia (excessive breast growth) or significant breast hypertrophy (overgrowth of breast tissue), which are conditions that can impact their ability to participate in physical activity or interfere with their sports performance. 

Normally, breast enlargement in girls occurs in response to hormonal influences and as part of physiologic changes in puberty. The process may begin as early as age 7 and continue for several years, usually until around age 18. Once breast maturity occurs and there is no further increase in breast size, breast reduction surgery may be safely undertaken. 

Results are immediate, and return to full physical activity is usually possible within 2 weeks after surgery.

What are the Conditions?

  • Breast hypertrophy (macromastia) produces heavy, enlarged, low-hanging breasts. It may result in debilitating symptoms such as pain in the neck and shoulders, headaches, shoulder grooving, and rashes under or between the breasts. In active and athletic teenage girls who participate in sports and physical activity, this condition can seriously impact their performance on the field and during training.

  • In some girls, breast enlargement is accelerated and breast tissue can grow extremely rapidly, resulting in massive breast enlargement in early teenage years. This condition is referred to as gigantomastia.

Breast Reduction Procedure Details

With both breast hypertrophy and gigantomastia, a breast reduction procedure can lead to a significant improvement in quality of life. 

Occasionally, a breast reduction may be performed using only liposuction, which requires only tiny, imperceptible incisions hidden under the breasts. This technique for reduction may be performed using only twilight anesthesia.

In patients who would benefit from reduction of excess breast tissues as well as excision of excess skin and repositioning the nipples, surgery involving scars around the nipples and on the breast skin may be required. Limited incision or short scar surgery uses the shortest scars possible and is often the method of choice for teenage girls. This technique requires general anesthesia. 

Results are immediate, and return to full physical activity is usually possible within two weeks after surgery.

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Gynecomastia Surgery for Teens

Gynecomastia surgery is for boys with breast tissue enlargement that gives their chest a feminized appearance. Gynecomastia is the growth of excess fatty and glandular breast tissue that can develop in male individuals. In adolescent boys, hormonal changes in puberty may occasionally result in an imbalance between estrogen and testosterone, which can manifest as gynecomastia. This condition — which can affect up to half of boys ages 10-19 years old — often resolves on its own, but when it persists, it can cause physical pain and social embarrassment. It most often affects both breasts, although there may be asymmetry or unilateral breast involvement. Use of alcohol, certain drugs such as steroids and marijuana, and hypogonadism may be implicated in causing gynecomastia.

Gynecomastia Procedure Details

When gynecomastia has persisted for six months or longer and certain causes have been ruled out, surgery may be considered. Most often, liposuction alone is sufficient to remove excess tissue and create a flatter chest. However, in some patients, a small additional incision around the areola may be necessary to allow for the removal of excess breast tissue. 

Gynecomastia surgery is usually performed under local anesthesia with sedation, and patients often wear a compression garment for a short time after surgery. The results are immediate, and patient satisfaction is generally extremely high.

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Breast Asymmetry Correction for Teens

Breast asymmetry correction (breast augmentation) is an option for girls — most often those at least 18 years of age — who have breast underdevelopment or breast asymmetry after they have completed breast development.

Sometimes associated with congenital syndromes such as Poland’s syndrome, significant breast asymmetry may develop during adolescence. In girls whose breasts remain underdeveloped throughout adolescence, bilateral hypoplasia (small breast size) may persist.

Correction of breast asymmetry in young patients has been shown to achieve both physical and psychological benefits, with improvement in emotional wellbeing and self-esteem as well as appearance.

Breast Asymmetry Procedure Details

  • In cases of asymmetry, unilateral breast augmentation may be the ideal option.
  • In cases of bilateral hypoplasia, bilateral breast augmentation may be the preferred option. 
  • Other options are to perform a breast lift or breast reduction on one side in combination with breast augmentation on the contralateral side. 

In most cases of breast hypoplasia or underdevelopment — whether unilateral or bilateral — breast augmentation is performed using breast implants. Currently, only saline-filled breast implants are FDA-approved for cosmetic use in women under the age of 22. Saline implants are available in a vast array of varying sizes, diameters, projections, and shell surface options and may be inserted using very small incisions (approximately one inch) placed either in the armpit, underneath the breast, or around the nipple. Saline breast implants may be located either directly underneath the breast or underneath the pectoralis major muscle.  

Breast augmentation is most often performed under general anesthesia. Results are immediate, and recovery usually requires at least two weeks before a return to full activity.

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Which Type of Breast Asymmetry Procedure is Right for Me?

There are numerous alternatives and advantages to each option for breast asymmetry correction. During your consultation with Dr. Hutchinson, she will have a comprehensive discussion with you regarding the various possibilities. She will carefully assess each patient for their specific needs and expectations in order to determine the appropriate surgical plan. 

Labiaplasty for Teens

For teenage girls who have asymmetry or significant enlargement of the labia that results in physical and/or emotional discomfort, labiaplasty is an excellent option. Teen girls develop secondary sexual characteristics throughout puberty, and part of this process includes development of external genitalia. In some adolescent girls, the labia minora become enlarged, thickened, or protuberant, and this may contribute to both physical discomfort and emotional embarrassment. In some girls, asymmetric development of the labia minora results in significant discrepancy between the two sides. Excess tissue may be visible in clothing, and friction between the labia may result in inflammation and ulceration.

Labiaplasty is sought out to improve either asymmetry or overall tissue excess of the labia. Several surgical techniques are safe and effective in reducing hypertrophy and the bulk of the labia. Dr. Hutchinson has extensive experience in performing labiaplasty surgery in adolescent girls and will discuss which option is right for the patient.

The procedure is most often performed under local anesthesia with sedation, although in select cases local anesthesia alone can be used. Results are immediate, although recovery will take at least 2-4 weeks before full activities may be resumed.

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Why Choose Dr. Hutchinson?

Dr. Olivia Hutchinson is a board certified aesthetic plastic surgeon who has been delivering exceptional results to the patients of Manhattan’s Upper East Side and all over the world for over two decades. Educated at top notch institutions such as Harvard and Columbia, she has a stellar reputation and is highly respected; her in depth knowledge, training, skill, and experience set her apart. She also displays a rare sensitivity and excellent bedside manner with every patient. Her goal is to ensure the finest surgical results for her patients and exceed their expectations. Dr. Hutchinson is dedicated to providing the best care for each individual patient. To schedule a consultation, contact us online or call us at (212) 452-1400.

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