Summary: After reading some news stories, many people are probably wondering: should kids get plastic surgery. The answer seems simple enough: no. No, they shouldn’t. But when you stop to consider the fact that many minors do, in fact, undergo cosmetic plastic surgery procedures, it becomes harder to dismiss every single one of them as, somehow, irresponsible. And since we can’t dismiss all of them, we should examine their motivations. After all, plastic surgeons—including the Minneapolis breast augmentation experts at Minneapolis Plastic Surgery or anyone doing Botox in Los Angeles, for example—must get parental consent for any cosmetic plastic surgery procedure involving a minor.

should kids get plastic surgery?

An Old Question for a Young Crowd: Should Kids Get Plastic Surgery?

Plastic surgery is popular in the United States (to be accurate—it’s popular across the world, but we’re going to stick to the United States because that’s where the statistics we draw from are gathered). It’s not hard to see why. For many men and women, it’s a way to get the body you want when maybe diet and exercise didn’t really cut it. That doesn’t mean anyone should feel pressured or shamed into getting plastic surgery—in fact, many people look at it as a way to escape shame or pressure that’s already there (society, after all, has a lot to say on the way our bodies should look, and it doesn’t always speak in a pleasant way).

So, many adults use plastic surgery to achieve a look they wouldn’t otherwise normally be able to achieve. As a result, they have more self-esteem and self-confidence, and enjoy a higher quality of life. And if that’s the results for adults, how do we feel about minors undergoing plastic surgery procedures? At first glance, this seems like a simple, cut and dry answer: kids shouldn’t get plastic surgery. And, for the most part, I agree with that assertion. But I think there are some ways we can complicate that thinking, because the fact of the matter is that minors do undergo cosmetic plastic surgery—to the tune of more than 100,000 last year alone.

Getting Under the Statistics

We can be alarmed or disturbed by this statistic, sure—but we might be better off trying to understand it, while, perhaps, refraining from condoning it. It wasn’t that long ago I remember reading a story about teens who were getting cosmetic plastic surgery in order to avoid bullying. Combine that with the fact that the negative effects from said bullying tend to last a lot longer than we originally thought (well into adulthood) and it can start to make sense why some would want to escape such a negative atmosphere. After all, the worst part about bullying is often that it’s relentless—and when it centers around your nose or something else you can’t control, it can leave you feeling quite helpless.

I’m not saying that anybody who is bullied should automatically go out and get plastic surgery. After all, cosmetic plastic surgery permanently alters the body. It’s not something that should be undertaken without serious thought and consideration. I also firmly believe that the behavior of bullies should be mitigated before going under the knife. But sometimes that’s not always realistic. Sometimes the most reasonable alternative might be plastic surgery.

Parents and Plastic Surgery

But here’s the other side of the coin—and why I don’t necessarily think we should be incredibly disturbed by that 100,00 number. I’m not sure anyone really wants to perform plastic surgery on kids. Most plastic surgeons, I would imagine, do not believe kids should get plastic surgery. They would bring the same hesitations and questions to any interaction with a minor as anybody else would. Parents, I would imagine, are in the same boat. They’re all looking for alternatives—something to do besides cosmetic plastic surgery.

It should also be noted that cosmetic plastic surgery and reconstructive plastic surgery are two different things, and no one really has an issue with children receiving much needed reconstructive plastic surgery (this is the type of plastic surgery that repairs issues such as birth defects). The reason why we tend to frown upon minors getting cosmetic surgery is similar to the reason we frown on minors getting tattoos—they simply do not have the maturity (generally) or life experience to make thoughtful, methodical, and wise decisions about permanent alterations to their bodies.

How the Law Protects Minors

By law, parents are required to consent to any cosmetic plastic surgery performed on a minor. One would hope that, under the guidance of both a plastic surgeon and caring parents, children would not be receiving frivolous cosmetic plastic surgery. One would hope that, with so much oversight, kids are getting only the plastic surgery they are thoughtfully and wisely desiring.

Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world, and the fact of the matter is that some kids are going to get cosmetic plastic surgery that they later regret. That’s unfortunate. But I think it’s the minority. And it’s important to remember that the question of, should kids get plastic surgery is a little too broad on a person-by-person basis. Rather, the question should be—should this child (and this child specifically) get plastic surgery.

That’s always a harder question to answer. But hopefully everyone considers that answer thoughtfully.