Teens’ Cosmetic Dreams Don’t Always Come True

Robert Davis, USA TODAY: July 28, 2004

As a kid, Kacey Long would escape her hometown of Ennis, Texas, by imagining herself as a professional businesswoman. […]

At 19, Long decided to get breast implants. “I was all about doing anything I could to improve myself,” she says. […]

In 2003, almost 336,000 teens 18 or younger had some kind of cosmetic surgery or procedure, a 50% increase over 2002.

Patient-safety advocates believe that many of the teens having surgery are unnecessarily putting themselves at risk of injury or even death. Teens face different obstacles in making a decision like this, experts say. They are often insecure and naive about medical risks. And they literally are not always finished growing up.

Plastic surgery, like any surgery, can go wrong, as it did for Long. […]

Although research has not proved that implants can cause serious diseases, Long says she has been diagnosed with systemic silicone poisoning from the shells surrounding the saline implants, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. […]

Nobody tracks deaths or injuries caused by plastic surgery, but one study found that one in 50,000 liposuction surgery patients die. […]

“The big problem with adolescents is they are being operated on at the most tumultuous time in their bodies. They may not recognize the permanence of what they’re doing,” says David Sarwer, a psychologist at the Center for Human Appearance at the University of Pennsylvania medical school. […]

“You’re not going to have too many plastic surgeons saying you don’t really need this,” says Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Center for Policy Research for Women & Families. “Once you get in the door, of course, the doctors are saying everything they can to persuade you to have surgery.”

Zuckerman wants rules to protect girls from plastic surgery.

“Breast implants are not approved for anyone under 18, but any doctor can perform the surgery legally,” she says. “I’d like to see the American Society of Plastic Surgeons have a policy saying we think our doctors shouldn’t do this on anyone under 18.”

Experts disagree on whether teens are too young for surgeries such as breast augmentation.

Zuckerman says girls should be encouraged to develop more before having surgery. “A lot of teens gain weight during their freshman year in college,” she says. “If they had just waited a few years, they might have been less flat-chested.[…]

Read the original article here.