Growing up has never been easy. Even before the Internet, the teenage years came with changes, insecurity, and a list of “flaws” to correct. Comparison has always been the killer, but gone are the days when it was just you vs. the token pretty girl squad in your high school. Today it’s your child vs. the whole World Wide Web of airbrushed, filtered, plastic surgery-d teen beauties. Think Kylie Jenner who started experimenting with fillers at age 16, Ellie Goulding, who recently debuted a dramatic new look, Bella Hadid whose before and after pictures are incredibly different, plus the thousands of #instagramfamous girls with clearly “fixed” features.
With this onslaught of “perfection” constantly in their faces, teens have started to look at plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures as the only path towards confidence and peer approval. This leads to a whole new challenge in parenting: your child wants to go under the knife or alter their appearance in some way. So what should you do?
From a medical standpoint there are a few things to consider. According to board certified plastic surgeon and best-selling author Dr. John Zannis MD, it’s important that the young patient has realistic expectations of the outcomes and valid motives for wanting it. “The parent and doctor must assess the level of maturity of the child and their level of understanding of the procedure,” he says. Dr. Zannis also cautions that some procedures are not possible for patients of a certain age; to achieve optimal results in some surgeries it is necessary for the patient to finish growing and developing.
But what about psychologically? How can you encourage a teen to love their appearance without having to change it? How do you say no without alienating them? If you say yes, does that imply you think your own child is “ugly?”