11/15/02 - Teens and Plastic Surgery

What would you say if your teenager wanted plastic surgery? It's an issue more parents are facing today, even right here in the Heartland more teens want breast implants. But do teens know enough to make an informed decision? Some doctors don't agree on how young is too young. Some doctors refuse to do breast implant surgery on teens, but we found one who says it's okay for the right reasons.
Danielle, who is 19 now, didn't want to show her face on camera. She was 18 when she go her implants, but she did want to tell us her dreams of becoming an import car model, and how she thinks bigger breasts will further her career. "I would always see the girls on the magazines, the car magazines, and I said I want to look like that," Danie
Dr. Nelson Gauto performed Danielle's surgery. He says he normally turns teens away, but made an exception for Danielle because he felt she was doing it for the right reasons. He says, "My understanding is she wants to pursue a career in the entertainment business, then I agreed to do the surgery." About one in 20 people who ask for his help are teens. Most teens want the implants, he says, for the wrong reason. "If they're coming out of peer pressure, usually it's better not to fall in that trap,&q
Danielle says getting saline implants have helped her accomplish her goal, she landed a job in a car magazine. "Before the surgery I was a very small A, and now I'm a very big C," Danielle says. But was 18 year old Danielle finished developing when she had her surgery? Plastic surgeon Dr. Greg Tobin says a woman may not fully developed until she's 22, and some can continue growing well into their 30s. "Even though the emphasis on women when you look in the magazines and so forth are very well developed, the reality is a lot of women aren't but they will be when they reach their maturity," Dr. Tobin says. Dr. Tobin also says the youngest patients who walk into his office, wanting breast implants are 22 years old. He says he discourages anyone younger from having the operation and won't do it himself. "Decisions in cosmetic surgery need to be made with forethought and maturity, and I don't believe that exists in a vast majority of adol
Besides not being fully developed, Dr. Tobin says there are other risks to teens getting implants. With any implant operation, you can experience decreased sensation of your breasts, your breast can also harden, or leak. And the life expectancy of implants isn't really known, so the younger you have them put in, the greater the chance you'll need to get them replaced.
It's been a year and a half since Danielle's surgery, she doesn't think much about the risks. "I look better, I feel more comfortable," Danielle says. "I would do it again in a heartbeat." Danielle doesn't rule out the possibility of getting other cosmetic surgery done in the future.
Most plastic surgeons in the Heartland disagree with teens getting other types of plastic surgery. Dr. Tobin says it's a good idea for all parts of your body to fully develop before you consider doing anything to change it.