More Teens See Implants As a Right

Jodi Mailander Farrell, Knight Ridder Newspapers: December 07, 2004

Melissa Gonzalez knew her family intended to give her enough money to buy a new car when she turned 18. But she had her heart set on something else: Bigger breasts. […]

Gonzalez is not alone. In just one year, the number of girls 18 and younger getting breast implants jumped nearly threefold — from 3,872 in 2002 to 11,326 in 2003, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reports. […]

Dr. Jose M. Soler-Baillo, a South Miami plastic surgeon who performed Gonzalez’s augmentation, says getting implants has become a ”coming-of-age type of thing” for many young women, “especially here in Miami.” […]

Critics say the timing couldn’t be worse for adolescent girls, who are often unhappy with their looks. They say teenagers are too young and shortsighted to comprehend the long-term affects of surgery, particularly the risks, which include the possibility of rupture or permanent scarring, the need for periodic operations to replace or remove the implants and the potential problems with breast-feeding and mammography. Also, little is known about the implants’ long-term safety; no studies have been done on females this young.

”It might feel to a 17-year-old like it’s the end of the world to wait a few years, but their bodies are still changing,” says Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center for Women & Families. ‘Those breasts are likely to get larger, especially when they go off to school and gain the `freshman 15,’ the pounds girls often put on between ages 18 and 21. Their whole body begins to look more voluptuous.” […]

There is no law forbidding implants in patients younger than 18, but the FDA advises against it. In the past 15 years, implants have been the subject of furious controversy over their safety. The FDA has banned silicone-gel implants because of unanswered questions about their safety, but it permits the use of saline-filled implants, which have a silicone shell. Both types are the subject of ongoing FDA studies.

Zuckerman, the mother of two teenagers, says girls should wait until they are 21 to consider breast surgery. […]

Read the original article here.