Health Risks Of Teen Cosmetic Surgery

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health risks of teen cosmetic surgery

When You Require Surgery Or Don’t

Health risks of teen cosmetic surgery discuss the damages of cosmetic surgical treatments to teen’s physical and mental health, and how to prevent such occurring. So in order to prevent the health risks of teen cosmetic surgery, this article will focus on four areas.  First, why do teens seek cosmetic surgery? Second, the impact of social media and the “Kardashian effect” on physical perfection.  Third, 20 health risks of teen cosmetic surgery.  Fourth, how can parents help children develop a healthy body image?

At this point, it’s key to clarify that cosmetic surgical treatments in this article refer to non-compulsory cosmetic surgical procedures on an otherwise healthy teenager with no life-threatening illness or impairment.

Why Do Teens Seek Cosmetic Surgery?

Physical appearance is the major reason why teens seek cosmetic surgery. Most teens want their appearance to fit in with their peers. This is because they don’t want to stand out and be the target of cruel jokes. Consequently undergo cosmetic surgery to improve perceived flaws, as well as increase self-confidence and self-image. 

Aside from this, other teens seek cosmetic surgery to ‘fit’ into the latest celebrity trends on social media. But despite an assumed boost in self-confidence and self-image after corrective cosmetic surgery, doctors advise teens to resist cosmetic surgery done to please others or for peer acceptance.

Impact of Social Media and the “Kardashian Effect” on Physical Perfection

Social media is more prevalent and intrusive than ever.  Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are filled with photos of “perfect” celebrities and influencers with enhanced lips, enlarged breasts, butts, and carved waists.

And driving the desire for a cosmetic procedure on social media is the “Kardashian effect”. The “Kardashian effect” is the perfect image digitally and drastically altered for social media. This means perfect noses, eyes, chins, lips, dramatic makeup, and complexion smoothening. In other words, the pressure to look impeccable in selfies on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat is driving more teenagers to alter their real appearance.

health risks of teen cosmetic surgery

In addition, several studies found as follows that:

  • Social media influence the younger generation’s decision to submit to surgical and non-surgical cosmetic treatments.
  • Social media use can impact the desire for cosmetic surgery. This is because it influences body dissatisfaction which subsequently leads to an increased quest for cosmetic surgery.
  • Social media can negatively affect body image since users are normally exposed to slim, fit, and perfected body types and frequently compare themselves to friends and celebrities.

20 Health Risks Of Teen Cosmetic Surgery

health risks of teen cosmetic surgery

Health risks are both physical and mental. However, in order to appreciate the extent of these health risks, all you need to do is Google “bad plastic surgery” or watch “Botched”. You will see people who went to the extreme in their quest for physical perfection and the horrific results.

Likewise, find below the physical and mental health risks that are likely from three controversial cosmetic surgeries:

Physical health risks

Breast implants

  • Infection
  • Hematomas and seromas
  • Capsular contracture ( painful hardening of the breasts)
  • Loss of nipple sensation, and hypertrophic scarring
  • Interference with mammography
  • Low production of milk when trying to breastfeed


  • Infection
  • Damage to skin nerves, or vital organs
  • Fat or blood clots can migrate to the lungs, leading to death
  • Excessive fluid loss that can lead to shock or death

Genital surgeries

  • Infection
  • Altered sensation
  • Painful penetration
  • Adhesions
  • Scarring

Mental health risks

Instagram has the most negative impact on young people’s mental health. This is because young people are exposed to content from celebrities and influencers on Instagram that shows the effects of cosmetic surgeries. Those images begin to look normal which can lead to increased pressure to look the same way. In the end, mental health symptoms begin to surface such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Lack of confidence
  • Body dysmorphia disorder (BDD)
  • Other mental health-related issues

How Can Parents Help Children Develop Healthy Body Image?

Parents can play a critical role in helping their children develop positive body image and self-esteem. This parental role will help children resist the urge to alter their physical appearance. So, read the following tips and lead your child toward positive behavior that can discourage cosmetic surgery.

Focus your child on positive body image

It is good to guide your child’s opinions early on body image. Studies show that children as young as 3 years old form opinions on what a body should look like. As such, don’t wait until your child is older. But keep in mind that the way you talk about your body will influence your child. Also, the meals you serve, the meals you eat, and whether or not you exercise will influence your child.

Help Your Girl Get Healthy Image

Discuss health benefits rather than physical benefits

Direct your child towards a healthy lifestyle, emphasizing character traits like being a good person, rather than outward appearance. The reality is that parents can significantly influence their children’s body image by discussing the health benefits rather than the physical benefits. This way you avoid exaggerating outward appearance.

Help your children steer their feelings

First of all, you must identify where your children’s desire for physical perfection and cosmetic surgery are emanating from. Then, sincerely listen to them, and be calm and understanding. Also, make room for explanation rather than dismissing their concerns. If their concerns are real, these can be resolved through cosmetic surgery. Then again, if the issues are that of self-perception, consultation with a therapist will be an appropriate option.

Encourage less use of social media

Encourage your child to reduce the time spent on social media by setting as many limits as possible. For instance, you can restrict screen time, or block harmful websites. Or even remove devices from their bedroom overnight. A reduction of time spent on social media will open up on things other than physical appearance. In short, as a parent, you have the ability to provide pause and assist your child put things into better perspective.


In conclusion, social media companies should take adequate measures to protect vulnerable young people from being targeted by posts that prey on anxieties. Or posts that set unrealistic and distorted expectations.

In particular, Instagram should do more to protect young people from having unfiltered access to content exposed by influencers and celebrities. At least for the reason that these contents do undermine the teen’s self-esteem and trigger interest in unnecessary surgical procedures.

And finally, implementing media literacy in schools will reduce the health risks of teen cosmetic surgery. This is because, through media education, the negative effects of social media on teens’ body image can be managed and controlled.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons

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