Last week I blogged about how young is too young for plastic surgery. I touched on the topic of breast implants, but thought it might be interesting for my readership to hear about this in more detail. Here are a few interesting tidbits:

• Interestingly, although the FDA has approved the use of silicone implants only for women above the age of 21 and the use of saline implants for those 18 and older, there are no legal restrictions on the procedure. The suppliers of the implants, however, would take issue with anything that violates FDA approval since this could lead to sanctions against them and the loss of their ability to sell the implants. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has an official policy against breast augmentation for most teens under 18, but reconstructive surgery would be OK’d.

• Younger teens tend to be more dissatisfied with their bodies than older teens. A long-term study conducted on boys and girls aged 11-18 found that body image satisfaction was highest at age 18. What this means is that teens will outgrow some of the changes they want to make to their bodies by the time they graduate from high school. Waiting until that time to have surgery makes good sense.

• Not only do teens change their ideas about body image, but also their bodies are changing. While enlargement of the breasts may seem like a good idea at age 14, things are almost certainly going to change by age 18 because of normal breast development. Furthermore, these body changes may continue into the early 20’s. Wait until your body finishes growing before changing it!

• Although great advances have been made in reducing the risks of breast augmentation, there are still significant risks such as breast pain, hardness, nipple numbness, and an inability to nurse. These complications may last for a lifetime. There is also the fact that additional surgery is going to be required to maintain the implants should they leak or harden. Health insurance will not usually pay for this surgery, obligating the patient to spend thousands of dollars that may be needed for other vital needs such as student loan repayment!

• If a teenager changes her mind at some point in the future about having breast implants and wants to have them removed, she may find that her breasts are stretched out and drooping significantly after the removal. Correction of this drooping may require expensive surgery and leave her with unattractive scars.

Do any of you have different thoughts? I’d like to hear from you.

If you wish to explore this topic in more detail, check out the following website where some of the above information was taken: http://www.breastimplantinfo.org/news/teen_implants.html for blog

George Sanders, M.D.