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However, one can ask if plastic surgery is appropriate for teenagers and whether one can expect them to really understand the risks and consequences of such surgery.

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Other medical risks that can manifest over time include reduced lactation (milk production for breast feeding) and rendering mammograms problematic.


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It is telling that Queensland adopted a law in 2006 that makes it illegal for people under 18 to have cosmetic surgery. Anyone in that age group that wants cosmetic surgery must be referred by a general practitioner and must have had counselling on the matter before seeing a plastic surgeon.


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Where it becomes contentious is when the purpose of the surgery is to change something that the person simply doesn’t like about their appearance. Here the main drivers are likely to be peer pressure, self esteem and body image issues.

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Breast reduction is popular, even for boys who have problems with “man boobs” (gynaecomastia). Breast augmentation is not suggested before girls are at least 18 years old.
Liposuction to literally suck out unwanted fat is also popular.

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Few people will argue against cosmetic surgery for teenagers with problems that cause ridicule, for instance pinning back large ears or fixing “man boobs”, or reducing painful, large breasts for girls.
It is widely acknowledged that, all else being equal, people who are more attractive have a better chance of getting the job they want. People may want to look better in order to have the best chance in life, and parents cannot be blamed for wanting changes that can help secure a better life for their children.

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Remember that teenagers are not all equally emotionally mature. They have to be able to evaluate the risks and understand the consequences of the surgery.

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Once matters get serious, it is crucial to consult a well-respected plastic surgeon, preferably one that has been recommended by your family doctor. Experienced, responsible surgeons will be able to tell if someone isn’t emotionally ready for the operation.