As the new school year begins, it’s a time when some teens may return to school with new cosmetic enhancements. Where plastic surgery on teenagers was once quite taboo, it’s becoming increasingly popular in teens as they are exposed to friends, social media, and young celebrities who admit having gone under the knife to correct insecurities.

Summer break is the most common time for teens to undergo plastic surgery, as it allows the necessary time to recover and remain discreet to their procedures.  In fact, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), nearly 64,000 teens got cosmetic surgery in 2013, and it’s becoming increasingly popular.

One of the most important things to remember with a teen considering plastic surgery is distinguishing between desire and need. When it comes to young people, not all plastic surgery is created equal. Whereas a procedure like a breast reduction on a teenager could be considered reasonable for medical reasons since large breasts can cause back, neck, and shoulder pain, as well as psychosocial implications, a procedure like breast implants for a young adult would not be recommended.  Another common procedure for teenagers, a Rhinoplasty, can also be an acceptable surgery for teenagers who have difficulty breathing due to their unique anatomy.

Surgeries that are purely cosmetic should be considered later in life once a teen has fully developed reasoning skills to make appropriate, thoughtful decisions about their body and health.  For a procedure like a breast augmentation, a teenager may not realize that having surgery so young will guarantee the need for future surgery down the road.  Most young adults do not realize that implants have a shelf life of roughly 20 years.  This sets them up for multiple more surgeries in their lifetime, and at a young age, the gravity of that choice may not be fully understood.

It is also important for teens to realize that all cosmetic procedures carry risk.  Though no physician ever anticipates a problem, major complications can be a possibility.  At such a young age, it is difficult to make fully informed decisions about your health and future well-being. As a parent, it is also important to fully weigh these risks with your teenager before giving consent.  Make sure you have fully discussed your teens’ concerns and that everyone involved is completely informed on what they are signing on to receive.

It is also very important that teens be through their adolescent growth spurt before any cosmetic procedure.  Teens’ changing bodies can add an extra complication when it comes to plastic surgery and that growth spurt can cause significant differences in the body. People can gain or lose a lot of weight in their formative years, and women’s breasts can continue to change until as late as age 22.  Take your time to fully be informed when deciding on cosmetic procedures.  With thoughtfulness, positive outcomes are more likely to be achieved for years to come.