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How Young Is Too Young For Plastic Surgery?

Updated August 2018

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), only 1% of the total patients for plastic surgery in 2017 were between the ages of 13-19. Some of the most popular procedures among teenagers included:

  • rhinoplasty (nose job)
  • breast augmentation
  • breast reduction
  • otoplasty (ear surgery)

However, due to the surge in the number of social media celebrities and television programs promoting cosmetic makeovers and the increasing pressure on teens to conform to unrealistic beauty standards, many teens do express a desire for cosmetic surgery. If a child expresses to their parents that they would like cosmetic surgery, parents should be aware of the factors contributing to their desire for cosmetic procedures.

At Peterson MD, a leading cosmetic surgery clinic in Kelowna, we follow strict guidelines when it comes to our younger patients. Through a comprehensive consultation, we evaluate whether your teenager has reached the appropriate milestones in physical growth as well as in emotional maturity before discussing any cosmetic surgery options.

Feature Development

While some of our features, such as our ears and nose, stop growing by the time we reach puberty, other parts of our body such as our lips and breasts are still maturing well into early adulthood. In fact, research indicates that the average teenage girl gains weight between the ages of 18-21 and is highly likely to change her desire or need for certain cosmetic surgeries such as breast augmentation or liposuction. Not only will cosmetic surgery performed on these features inevitably require revision later on in life, they are also trickier to perform and come with higher risks of complication.

Emotional Maturity

According to the ASPS, parental consent is required for all teenage cosmetic surgeries when the patient is under the age of 18 years old and for a good reason. While a successful aesthetic procedure can have a positive influence on a emotionally stable, well-motivated teenager, it can be psychologically damaging to an less mature adolescent. A good candidate for cosmetic surgery is mature enough to:

  • Voice a specific concern
  • Have realistic goals and expectations of the surgical outcomes (e.g. a teenager who wants a hump removed from her nose might be a good candidate while one who believes that a straighter nose will increase her popularity may not)
  • Understand the procedure
  • Accept the surgical risks
  • Adhere to the limitations of the recovery period


When teenagers seek cosmetic procedures, their motivation is more often directly tied to self-esteem and self-image than is the case with adults. While adults seek plastic surgery to stand out from the crowd, the majority of our younger patients want to alter their physical appearance to blend in with their peers. Some of the red flags you need to watch out for are:

  • If your teenager expects plastic surgery to fix personal issues, not just physical attributes
  • If they are only motivated by what is currently trending
  • If their request is driven simply by the need to ‘fit in.’

While there are most definitely circumstances under which teenage cosmetic surgery is appropriate and life-enhancing, the problem comes in when your teenager’s motivation is misplaced.

For many parents, the topic of teenage cosmetic surgery presents a serious dilemma since your first inclination is simply to say ‘no.’ While you are understandably worried about the potential risks to your child, it’s not a request that should be taken lightly or ignored. Determining whether to do a cosmetic procedure requires effective and willing communication between doctor, patient and parent.

If your teenager is exploring the option of plastic surgery, Kelowna cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Brian Peterson can help. Book a consultation with him today at 250-868-9099 or visit


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I recently had liposuction done by Dr. Peterson to fix Coolsculpt I had had done that left me uneven. He was very professional, caring and compassionate and assured me everything could be fixed. I can't express my gratitude to Dr. Peterson for what an amazing job he did and how well he took care of me. I would highly recommend him to anyone looking for a plastic surgeon, in fact I have recommended him to many friends and they have all been very happy. My experience at the clinic was amazing, right from the beginning talking with Cynthia and the amazing care I got from all the nurses, I felt very special.

T. G.

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