Plastic Surgery and Children: An Inside Look


A question arises: Is it possible for children to get plastic surgery?

A lot of people frowned upon plastic surgery not too long ago, but today it has become increasingly more popular than ever before. From non-surgical, minimally invasive procedures such as Botox and fillers to more complicated surgeries like breast augmentation and liposuction, the demand for cosmetic procedures has increased by 115% over the last 15 years. Last year, around 19.3 million procedures were performed in the US alone.

One of the reasons plastic surgery is quickly becoming popular is the fact that it helps empower a lot of patients. Mental and psychological problems such as personal insecurities and body image issues can be easily solved through plastic surgery, while women who had one or both breasts removed due to breast cancer could have a chance to restore them through reconstructive procedures.

Because of easy access and a relatively positive perception in mainstream culture, it has become common and accepted for men and women alike to go under the knife. But through this, a question arises: Is it also possible for children to get plastic surgery?

Why would plastic surgery be necessary for kids?

Most people might wonder why there would ever be a need for children to get plastic surgery when they are still too young, and it can be quite risky. But perhaps unknown to many, children have cosmetic procedures mainly to solve a functional issue or to correct an inborn deformity.

Children have plastic surgery not purely because of aesthetic reasons but more importantly, to improve their quality of life. Some of the usual procedures children undergo are meant to fix abnormalities which could make them uncomfortable, embarrassed, or self-conscious.

The following are the common problems children have that could only be solved through plastic surgery:

  • Blocked sinus

A blocked sinus may be the result of tissues in the nose becoming swollen due to a cold, allergies, or particles in the environment that block the sinus passage. This may cause pain and a lot of breathing problems for young children. If medications fail to work, a nose job or rhinoplasty is helpful in improving nasal breathing problems. Although the procedure might seem intimidating, it is actually the most common reason a lot of children consult for plastic surgery.

  • Cleft chin

Having a cleft chin is most usually hereditary so children who have a parent with the trait might also have the same feature. While they were considered very attractive a few decades ago, cleft chins are not as popular and desirable now. Children who are bothered by the appearance of a cleft chin have two options to correct it: have chin fillers or undergo a cleft chin surgery.

Having a chin filler injected is considered safer and less painful although it is temporary. Meanwhile, undergoing surgery is permanent and could fix a greater defect, but the recovery time is longer. It also requires anesthesia. Regardless, the decision ultimately depends on what option the patient is more comfortable with.

Other situations

Other cases that might also require plastic surgery for kids include ear deformations, a deviated septum, and discomfort caused by large breasts. For these problems, there are appropriate procedures that could help improve a child’s life.

Otoplasty is done to fix deformities of the external ear. This is done by reshaping the ear or pinning it back. This procedure can be performed on young children, usually at the age of 5 and above, when the ears would have reached around 80% of their adult size.  

Before and after of child otoplasty

Photo courtesy Memorial Plastic Surgery *Results may vary

Other than rhinoplasty, another procedure that could be done to address breathing difficulty is septoplasty. This surgery is done to straighten the nasal septum and restore nasal function. Unlike rhinoplasty which is often performed on young adolescents, septoplasty can be done as early as necessary.

For teenagers who struggle with large breasts, a helpful solution would be breast reduction. Too much weight on the chest might cause teenage girls to experience pain on their shoulder and upper back, which could interfere with normal activities. Meanwhile, teenage boys may develop gynecomastia or the swelling of the breast tissue. Like girls, they could also experience the same discomfort and suffer from embarrassment. Therefore, teenage girls and boys alike could benefit from breast reduction to solve their functional issues.

Is plastic surgery advisable for children?

Outside of the cases mentioned above, we at Memorial Plastic Surgery DO NOT ADVISE children undergoing plastic surgery simply for aesthetic reasons.

Plastic surgery is only recommended to address health and functional concerns which may arise from congenital abnormalities or accidents. Procedures which dramatically alter a child or teenager’s body such as breast augmentation and Botox are heavily discouraged.

How young is too young to go under the knife?

The appropriate age for children to discuss and undergo plastic surgery procedures largely depends on the severity of their case, the specific physical requirements of each surgery, and their age. For instance, otoplasty and septoplasty could be performed on children as young as five years old, depending on the child’s need. However, procedures such as breast reduction are best done on young adolescents.

At the end of the day, children should know that they are beautiful just as they are, regardless of whatever deformity they may have. As cliché as it may sound, imperfections are marks of every person’s authenticity, for they are part of what makes every person different and unique.

However, when it comes to a point where these imperfections interfere with how a child functions in daily life, there are always helpful solutions in the form of plastic surgery. There are different procedures to address different concerns, but it is always best to consult with a plastic surgeon who can safely asses the candidacy of each patient, regardless of age. Lastly, it is important to remember that change does not come easily. As with anything, patience is key to having good results.