The Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council recently issued a set of recommendations for controls on plastic surgery for teens in that country. Along with a variety of restrictions on the practice, the recommendations propose to implement consistent standards from state to state in Australia, where growing demand for teen plastic surgery, according to the report, is "a disturbing trend."
Should we consider more restrictions on plastic surgery for teenagers in this country?
On one side of the debate, it seems that the perception that teen plastic surgery is increasing sharply in the Unites States is mainly just that--a perception. According to the American Society of Plastic surgeons, the number of both surgical and non-surgical procedures among teens stayed relatively flat from 2008 to 2009. In fact, both numbers decreased a bit year over year. The ASPS reports that nearly 75,000 people aged 13-19 underwent cosmetic surgery in 2009, and about 135,000 teens chose a non-surgical cosmetic treatment. Young people make up only 2 percent of the entire U.S. plastic surgery population.
Furthermore, the majority of the 75,000 teen plastic surgery cases from last year are procedures you might expect, and even consider appropriate, for teenagers. There were nearly 13,000 operations to reduce the size of male breasts, for example. And almost 8,000 instances of otoplasty, the surgery that pins back ears that stick out. By far the most popular surgery for teens is rhinoplasty, with almost 35,000 operations in people 19 and under in 2009. These three procedures alone account for well over two-thirds of all teenage plastic surgery in the U.S.
Of the non-invasive cosmetic treatments teens elected in 2009, laser hair removal was the clear winner with 65,000 instances. That's nearly half the total of all non-surgical procedures for teens. Also popular were laser leg vein treatment and laser skin resurfacing, the latter presumably an acne-fighting or scar-fighting measure.
For the most part, then, teens seem to be choosing surgical and non-surgical cosmetic treatments that make a certain amount of sense. But that's not the whole story.