Aesthetics and Plastic Surgery

What Teens Should Know About Cosmetic Surgery and Body Image

Teens might have cosmetic 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?   

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
  • Risks from anesthesia, such as lung problems

You face additional concerns 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.)


For one, these surgeries usually need to be done over at some point. Also, breast implant risks include dimples and wrinkles that won't go away, pain, and an implant breaking. There are other possible problems, too, including that you might not be able to breastfeed when you have a baby and it could be harder to see signs of breast cancer in a mammogram (breast x-ray).

What else do I need to know about cosmetic surgery?  

Here are a few key points to keep in mind if you are thinking about plastic surgery:

  • Talk to your parents or guardians about any surgery and any concerns you have about how your body looks.
  • Don’t rely on surgery to change your life in a huge way.
  • Make sure any doctor you consider is qualified for the surgery you’re considering and is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
  • Some doctors won’t perform certain procedures if they don’t think you’re old enough. For example, it is usually not a good idea to have cosmetic surgery while your body is still growing.
  • Health insurance usually does not cover the cost of plastic surgery.

What if I feel unhappy about my body?
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. One way is 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 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.


Having body image issues

Do you wish you could lose weight, get taller, or develop faster? It's pretty common to worry a little about how your body looks, especially when it's changing. You can learn about body image and ways to take control of yours.

What is body image? 

Body image is how you think and feel about your body. It includes whether you think you look good to other people.

Body image is affected by a lot of things, including messages you get from your friends, family, and the world around you. Images we see in the media definitely affect our body image even though a lot of media images are changed or aren't realistic.

Why does body image matter?

Your body image can affect how you feel about yourself overall. For example, if you are unhappy with your looks, your self-esteem may start to go down. Sometimes, having body image issues or low self-esteem may lead to depression, eating disorders, or obesity.

How can I deal with body image issues?  

Everyone has something they would like to change about their bodies. But you'll be happier if you focus on the things you like about your body — and your whole self.

Need some help? Check out some tips:

  • List your great traits. If you start to criticize your body, tell yourself to stop. Instead, think about what you like about yourself, both inside and out. The "What's unique about me?" log can get you started.
  • Know your power. Hey, your body is not just a place to hang your clothes! It can do some truly amazing things. Focus on how strong and healthy your body can be.
  • Treat your body well. Eat right, sleep tight, and get moving. You'll look and feel your best — and you'll be pretty proud of yourself too.
  • Give your body a treat. Take a nice bubble bath, do some stretching, or just curl up on a comfy couch. Do something soothing.
  • Mind your media. Try not to let models and actors affect how you think you should look. They get lots of help from makeup artists, personal trainers, and photo fixers. And advertisers often use a focus on thinness to get people to buy stuff. Don't let them mess with your mind!
  • Let yourself shine. A lot of how we look comes from how we carry ourselves. Feeling proud, walking tall, and smiling big can boost your beauty — and your mood.
  • Find fab friends. Your best bet is to hang out with people who accept you for you! And work with your friends to support each other.
  • If you can't seem to accept how you look, talk to an adult you trust. You can get help feeling better about your body.

What do you see?

A lot of our body image comes from pics we see in the media or on social media sites. But those images can be unhealthy, fixed up, or faked. Focusing on inner beauty makes more sense. As one teen says, "My brilliance shines from the inside, from my heart. I reflect a life full of experience, full of love and anger. My beauty overpowers a room, not just the magazine page

Stressing about body changes

During puberty and your teen years, your body changes a lot. All those changes can be hard to handle. They might make you worry about what other people think of how you look and about whether your body is normal. If you have these kinds of concerns, you are not alone.


Here are some common thoughts about changing bodies.

  • Why am I taller than most of the boys my age?
  • Why haven't I grown?
  • Am I too skinny?
  • Am I too fat?
  • Will others like me now that I am changing?
  • Are my breasts too small?
  • Are my breasts too large?
  • Why do I have acne?
  • Do my clothes look right on my body?
  • Are my hips getting bigger?

If you are stressed about your body, you may feel better if you understand why you are changing so fast — or not changing as fast as your friends.


During puberty, you get taller and see other changes in your body, such as wider hips and thighs. Your body will also start to have more fat compared to muscle than before. Each young person changes at his/her own pace, and all of these changes are normal.

Pimples. Growing breasts. Body hair. Moody moments. If any of this sounds familiar, you’re likely on the path of puberty. It’s a road everyone travels, and it certainly has its bumps. But it’s also an amazing time.

Puberty is when you start making the change from being a child to being an adult. And it’s when your body develops the ability to have a baby. It all happens thanks to changing hormones, or natural body chemicals.

With everything that’s changing, life can feel a little overwhelming. But you can feel more in control if you take good care of your body.