I’m a Teenager Considering Breast Implants. What Should I Know to Help Me Decide?

Here are a few things to consider as you are making a decision about getting breast implants:

Teenagers are not finished developing. Breasts can develop during the late teens and early 20s. Implants could interfere with your normal development, or the resulting size and shape could be not at all what was intended as the breasts continue to develop.

The body you wish you had in your teens might not the body you’re going to want in your 20s.

Teenagers are often self-conscious about how they look. The odds are that you will feel a lot better about your body just a couple of years later, even without any cosmetic surgery. In fact, women who have breast implants tend to feel worse about themselves. Research has shown that of all age groups, teenagers are the most likely to be dissatisfied with their appearance — and that the dissatisfaction lessens with age. A long-term study conducted on both boys and girls ages 11-18 found that body image satisfaction was highest at age 18 for both boys and girls. In other words, older teens feel better about their bodies than younger teens.1 The study also found that the features participants were most dissatisfied with reflected the culturally determined stereotypes emphasized in books, mass media and advertisements.

There are no epidemiological studies or clinical trials on the safety and long-term risks of breast implants and liposuction on patients under 18. So, the risks are unknown. Although the FDA approved silicone gel breast implants only for women ages 21 and older, and saline breast implants only for women 18 and older, there are no legal restrictions on the procedure. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has an official position against breast augmentation for most teens under 18.

Breast augmentation has a very high complication rate that often requires additional surgery within five to ten years.2 , 3 For a girl of 18, that means she will probably need another surgery while she is in her 20s, her 30s, and every decade after that.

Some women do fine with breast implants while others have complications or health problems that can make them so sick that they call implants “the worst decision I ever made.” Before you decide, make sure you understand the risks and complications of breast implants.

Click here to read about a woman who got her implants when she was young and what she thinks about them today.

All articles are reviewed and approved by Diana Zuckerman, PhD, and other senior staff.

  1. Rauste-von Wright, Maijaliisa. Body Image Satisfaction in Adolescent Girls and Bodys: A Longitudinal Study. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 1989: Vol 18(1) p. 78, 81  
  2. http://www.fda.gov/downloads/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/ImplantsandProsthetics/BreastImplants/ucm064453.pdf  
  3. http://www.breastimplantinfo.org/augment/ibrief-aug042003.html