Sometimes people want to make specific changes to their body. These changes can include decorations such as tattoos, piercings, and hair styles/coloring. However, some people may desire structural changes that are made by cosmetic surgery and similar procedures.
Body modifications may be done for cosmetic or reconstructive reasons. People who have cosmetic procedures typically are unhappy with the size, shape, color, or texture of some body part and choose to have it changed in some way. Others may need similar procedures to reconstruct injured body parts or areas that have been damaged.
Most teens feel dissatisfied with some part of their body while they are growing up. If you are not happy with your appearance, try getting physically fit, practicing good grooming and hygiene, or changing your hair or clothing style.
Remember that you are still growing during your teenage years and may feel more comfortable with your appearance as you get older. Also recognize that people tend to be more critical of their own bodies – what looks "bad" to you may be unnoticeable to others.
If you are still considering a cosmetic procedure, consult with both your parents and your doctor, and speak with other people who have had that particular procedure. Gather information so you can make an educated decision.
The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery recommends that you consider these questions:
- Why do you want to change your appearance?
- What feature do you want to change?
- What are your expectations for the results?
Everyone's situation is unique, and only you can decide what is best for you and your life.
Cosmetic surgery is performed to alter or reshape some normal part of the body in order to improve a person's appearance or self-esteem. It is considered "elective" surgery (not medically necessary), and most insurance plans do not cover it, meaning patients must pay for the surgery themselves.
As with any type of surgery, cosmetic surgery carries risks to your health and life. Virtually every part of the body can be altered in some way. Some of the most common cosmetic surgery procedures are:
- Liposuction, a way of removing fat from the body by suction
- Rhinoplasty (nose reshaping, or nose job)
- Breast reshaping & reconstructions, including breast enlargements or reductions
- Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck)
- Otoplasty (ear surgery)
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Cosmetic procedures also alter the appearance of the body, but do not involve surgery.
- Dermabrasion is a skin resurfacing technique that uses a wire brush to remove the upper layers of the skin. It is most often used to remove acne scars and some wrinkles. Risks associated with this procedure include scarring, redness of the skin, and increased sensitivity to the sun.
- Laser resurfacing uses a laser beam to remove the upper layers of the skin. It is used to remove acne scars and tattoos. Risks associated with this procedure include swelling, crusting, infection, redness of the skin, and possible pigment changes.
- Permanent makeup is actually tattooing. The tattoo is applied in an area where a person would usually apply makeup. For example, eyeliner can be permanently tattooed on the eyelid. Risks associated with this procedure involve infection and possible allergic reactions to dyes.
- Chemical peels remove some of the surface layers of the skin, allowing new skin to grow. They are used to remove skin discolorations, small scars, and growths. Risks include scarring, allergic reaction, swelling, and color changes in the skin.
- Botox injections reduce the appearance of wrinkles. The effect lasts a few months. Botox is made from botulinim toxin, which is produced by a bacterium. Risks include nausea, headaches, flu-like symptoms, and drooping eyelids.
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Going to Extremes
Some people have more extreme body modifications such as tongue splitting, skin braiding, stretching of earlobes, and implantation of bits of materials to look like horns.
These procedures are not done by doctors but rather by "body artists" who may be licensed to perform tattoos and piercings. These procedures are also not regulated and, in some states, are illegal.
The risks associated with these procedures are obvious – possibility for infection from non-sterilized equipment, reaction to foreign substances in the body, and modified body parts no longer functioning correctly – not to mention the potential social implications both now and in the future.
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Below are links PAMF accessed when researching this topic. PAMF does not sponsor or endorse any of these sites, nor does PAMF guarantee the accuracy of the information contained on them.
Plastic Surgery, Nemours Foundation.
Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Procedures at a Glance, American Society of Plastic Surgeons.