Dr Manny's Notes

Plastic surgery: A gift not geared for young people

Manny Alvarez

Nearly everyone has those self-conscious quirks through high school and college. You might have to deal with acne, body odor, belly bulge, or other minor disruptions to a “perfect” body. Even though they may cause some discomfort, would you get plastic surgery to correct these issues? Many young people are getting plastic surgery, and they may not be making the best choice.

The Perfect Graduation Gift?

As millennials are working toward their degrees in college, they live with what they deem inadequacies during these years. Because of busy schedules and responsibilities, they simply cannot research and remedy their issues, whether it be getting to a healthy weight or reducing acne.

Parents see their hard work and often reward their students proudly when they graduate. Recently, however, more parents are rewarding their grads with plastic surgery. Parents often hope that it will give these students a confidence boost before they launch into their careers.

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According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, young people between the ages of 19–36 constituted over 17 percent of cosmetic surgeries in 2016.

Several surgeons and doctors in New York and California are attesting to this new trend as well. Dermatologist Whitney Bowe sees many parents giving their graduates CoolSculpting sessions, a procedure meant to sculpt and freeze fat.

For reconstructive surgeon Dara Liotta, rhinoplasty is a popular gift, helping graduates reconstruct their noses. While some young people do actually require the plastic surgery, most are simply seeking a renewed identity before hitting the workforce.

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Is Plastic Surgery a Good Idea?

While millennials and their parents might consider plastic surgery a relatively safe procedure, they should realize that it is still surgery. All surgeries come with risk.

Here are just a few risks that anyone considering plastic surgery should understand:

1. Scarring

Most people who get plastic surgery are desiring an improved look, but all surgery causes some scarring. In some cases, other people can plainly see the scarring involved, undermining the reason for the surgery in the first place.

2.  Dissatisfaction

While plastic surgeons do have great skill, patients always run the risk of changing their look and not liking the end result. They may have unrealistic expectations about how they’re going to look, although most surgeons will discuss this risk before surgery. Once the patients have undergone cosmetic surgery, they will likely never be able to return to their former look.

3.  Reaction to Anesthesia

Occasionally, patients who undergo surgery will not realize that they are allergic to anesthesia. This scenario is quite rare, but it does happen.

In addition, patients with underlying medical conditions, whether known or unknown, will have an increased risk of reacting to the anesthesia. The type of reaction usually depends upon the procedure and the specific underlying condition, but it can include blood clots, heart issues, and seizures.

4.  Infection

Another potential risk is infection. Again, risk for infection comes with any surgery, but millennials undergoing cosmetic procedures are opening themselves up to this risk unnecessarily. An infection could result in the surgeon re-opening the incision or some other medical procedure to fight off the bacteria.

Why Young People Should Avoid Plastic Surgery

From a mental and medical standpoint, college grads should avoid plastic surgery. Many times, they can seek other treatments for their cosmetic issues or learn to love the body they have. They need to know that surgery will not necessarily fix any emotional or psychological trauma involved with their perceived physical inadequacies.

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In fact, several studies in the last few decades show that suicide rates are actually higher in women who have had breast augmentation surgery. Also, people who have issues with self-esteem, anxiety, and depression have a greater chance of dissatisfaction with the results. 

Instead of jumping into a cosmetic procedure, parents and grads should consider all the physical and emotional risks involved and make the best decision from there. These young people show beauty as they are already, and they should learn to embrace it.

This article first appeared on AskDrManny.com.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit AskDrManny.com.