Summary: The teenage experience can be a tough one on so many levels, and these difficulties can be even harder when a teen feels insecure or embarrassed about his or her appearance. More and more teens are begging for plastic surgery to improve a perceived flaw, but many parents feel overwhelmed when faced with the decision of whether or not to allow a teen to pursue elective procedures. Here are some helpful tips to help you decide if plastic surgery is right for your teenager.

The Social Media Effect

The pressure to look good and feel accepted has always been a common theme for anyone going through adolescence, but today’s youth arguably struggle more with this pressure thanks to social media. Modern teens are constantly bombarded with Photoshopped images of “perfection” and “beauty” and can often feel inferior when they don’t like what they see in their own high-def selfies. Celebrity teens, like Kylie Jenner, have been open about the use of cosmetic treatments to enhance their appearance, leading many teens to want the kind of transformation that cosmetic procedures offer.

Determine Your Teen’s Motivations

For adults, plastic surgery is only appropriate when pursued for the right reasons, and the same goes for teens. Before completely shutting down your teen’s curiosities about plastic surgery, take the time to listen to and understand their motivations for wanting surgery. Ask questions about what your teen would like to change and how that perceived flaw causes them embarrassment or low self-esteem. A teen who’s being bullied and has lost self-confidence in social situations because of a big nose may be a good candidate for rhinoplasty and could experience dramatic psychological benefits from the procedure. If your teen wants to improve or correct a perceived flaw that really isn’t very noticeable, there may be deeper psychological issues that need to be addressed, such as body dysmorphic dysphoria. Also, teens who think that changing their appearance will make them more popular or garner the attention of a crush are not psychologically prepared to have plastic surgery.

Legal Limitations

There are three important factors that determine if a teen is ready for surgery: legal limitations, biology and psychology. Legally, anyone under the age of 18 must have parental consent when having plastic surgery. There are other legal limitations with regard to plastic surgery, such as saline breast implants not available to anyone under 18 years of age and silicone breast implants not available to anyone under 22 years of age.

Physical Limitations

The physical maturity of the teen must also be evaluated when determining if plastic surgery is appropriate. Altering body parts before they’ve finished developing is not safe or prudent, so a rhinoplasty, for example, shouldn’t be performed until the mid-face skeleton has matured. Development occurs differently for each person, but girls do tend to mature faster. In the case of rhinoplasty, girls are generally developed enough for the procedure by 14 or 15, while boys may need to wait until 16 or 17.

Psychological Limitations

Making a decision to permanently alter your appearance isn’t one to be taken lightly.

Many teens aren’t mature enough to understand the risks and long-term investment of plastic surgery, and some may not have the life perspective to understand the gravity of the decision.

Additionally, teens can sometimes be unprepared to deal with the post-operative discomfort and recovery period care instructions. Some teens may be mature enough to handle plastic surgery, and this is where communication with your teen and your discretion about your teen’s readiness comes into play.