Coco Warner Reporting High school graduation gifts used to be a watch or a nice piece of jewelry. But the must-have among many graduating 18-year old girls this year? Breast Implants. Nationwide, more and more teens are undergoing plastic surgery and Utah is no different.
What are the reasons for plastic surgery's increase in popularity among teens? Everything from reality television shows that document surgeries to teens following in the footsteps of their parents.
Dr. Stephan Ralston says teenage patients account for about 15 percent of his business. In the last year he has seen a 50-percent increase in the number of teenagers seeking plastic surgery.
Stephan Ralston, M.D., Plastic Surgeon: “The big boom in cosmetic surgery occurred probably 25 or maybe more years ago, especially with augmentations. And so the patients we see now, the teenage patients, are usually children of that age group.”
Dr. Ralston says most teen patients he sees request breast implants, followed by liposuction. His numbers mirror a national trend. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, from 2002 to 2003 the number of girls 18 and younger who got breast implants nearly tripled.
This woman, who asked us to protect her privacy, was 18-years old when she had a breast augmentation and her nose done.
Woman: "I don't think I was too young, no I think that probably was a good time for me."
And while plastic surgery can help teenagers with self-esteem issues, experts warn parents to be careful.
Joy Wawrzyniak, Clinical Social Worker: "The dangerous thing is when they have no sense of self, when they have all of their self-esteem is based on what they look like and are expecting this plastic surgery and changing their appearance will then change who they are."
More advice-- parents need to help their teen with the long-term perspective.
Joy Wawrzyniak, Clinical social worker: "Counseling is a great thing that if you don't feel like your child is ready to make this big of a decision or if she is basing it on issues that maybe are unhealthy."
Stephan Ralston, M.D.: "If some girl, young girl is pushing their mother to have an augmentation done at 16, or 17, I would say don't pursue it. Wait until she's older and can understand things better. That's just a little too young in my opinion."
For Kaley Fisher the decision she made at 19 to have her ears pinned back is one she doesn't regret.
Kaley Fisher, Teen Patient: "I see a big difference, every time I look in the mirror I think, hmm, because I grew up looking at myself a different way. But nobody else has ever noticed, which is a good thing, because you don't really want them to know, hey you had surgery on your ears."
Another reason for the increase in teen cases: surgeries are now more affordable. But Dr. Ralston says the biggest indicator for him as to whether anyone is ready to undergo any procedure is if they have realistic expectations.