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Cosmetic surgery

Cosmetic Surgery.

What types of cosmetic surgery do teens get? arrow top

Teens might have surgery for a number of reasons, including to remove acne scars, change their noses, and make their breasts smaller or bigger. But if there’s something you don’t like about your body, your best bet is to try to work on how you feel about it. Your attitude can make a big difference. Try to focus on what you like about yourself. And remember that you’ve got lots more to offer the world than just how you look.

What are the risks of cosmetic surgery? arrow top

People who have cosmetic surgery face many of the same risks as anyone having surgery. These include:

  • Infection
  • Not healing well
  • Damage to nerves
  • Bleeding
  • Not being happy with the results

You face additional risks if you’re considering surgery to make your breasts bigger through breast implants. (Keep in mind that you usually can’t have this surgery until you’re 18.) The risks include the need for more surgery because the first surgery doesn’t work well, and dimples and wrinkles that won’t go away. There are other possible problems, too, including that it would be harder to see signs of breast cancer in a mammogram (breast x-ray) when you are older.

What else do I need to know about cosmetic surgery? arrow top

Of course, your parents/guardians will have questions and thoughts of their own, but here are a few key points to keep in mind:

  • Make sure any doctor you consider is qualified for the surgery you’re considering and is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
  • Don’t rely on surgery to change your life in a huge way.
  • Some doctors won’t perform certain procedures if they don’t think you’re old enough.

What if I feel unhappy about my body? arrow top

Most people want to look good, and in your teen years you’ve got lots going on with your body. How you feel about how you look is called body image, and it can affect how you feel about yourself overall. It’s not always easy to have a positive body image, but you can work on it. It can help to ignore magazines and TV shows that say you need to look a certain way. Try to hang out with people who have healthy attitudes about how they look and who support and accept you. And remember to focus on what you like about yourself — inside and out. 

If you find that how parts of your body look bothers you a huge amount and you can’t stop thinking about them, you could have body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). People with BDD spend a lot of time and energy looking at their flaws and trying to hide them. They also may ask friends to reassure them about their looks and sometimes want a lot of cosmetic surgery. BDD is an illness, and you can get help. If you or a friend may have BDD, talk to an adult you trust, such as your parent or guardian, school counselor, doctor, or nurse.


Content last reviewed October 13, 2010
Page last updated October 31, 2013

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.