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We consider a few factors when qualifying a patient for plastic surgery. For example, it is crucial that patients be in good health overall, without any underlying conditions that could stymy their ability to heal. It is also important for patients to have realistic expectations, both about their procedure and their long-term results.

Still, another factor is age. We sometimes hear from patients who wonder if they are too old for plastic surgery. Alternatively, some patients wonder if they are too young. Today we will consider this second question, specifically covering the minimum age requirements for having a plastic surgery procedure.

What Does the Law Say?

A good place to begin is with legal considerations. In most states, you must be over the age of 18 in order to have plastic surgery performed. Those under 18 may qualify for surgery, but only with express consent from their parents.

There are additional age restrictions placed on certain types of plastic surgery. For example, certain types of breast implants (such as implants filled with silicone) are only allowable for patients who are 22 or older.


What About Reconstructive Surgery?

It is sometimes assumed that plastic surgery is all about changing your physical appearance, perhaps to minimize the signs of age, address body shape, or bolster self-esteem. However, some plastic surgeries are reconstructive in nature, meaning they are intended to repair the damage done by accident, injury, disease, or congenital conditions.

For reconstructive surgeries, it may be necessary for teens or even young children to have a clinical intervention. A good example of this is the cleft palate, a defect that some children experience from birth. With the consent of the parents, these defects can be surgically corrected when the child is very young, sometimes before the age of five.


What Does the Surgeon Say?

Something else to keep in mind is that performing plastic surgery is ultimately up to the surgeon’s discretion. There may be instances in which a patient is legally qualified to have a procedure, but the surgeon still thinks it unwise. There are many reasons why a surgeon may decline to perform surgery:

  • Body and breast procedures, including breast augmentation, should not be performed until the patient is finished developing. The breasts are not always fully developed at age 18.
  • Facial surgeries, including the facelift, are usually not advised until the patient begins exhibiting significant signs of facial aging. Facelifts may not be a good idea for younger patients who simply do not like their facial appearance.
  • Plastic surgeons may decline to perform liposuction on patients who are in their late teens or early twenties, especially if the surgeon believes liposuction will contribute to an unhealthy preoccupation with bodily appearance.
  • Surgeries to address gynecomastia are generally recommended after the male breast tissue has developed over the course of multiple years. Gynecomastia procedures are also recommended for males who are old enough to make a mature decision, something that may be left to the surgeon’s discretion.

For each procedure, plastic surgeons may have their own opinions about the minimum age threshold, above and beyond what is codified in law. Additionally, keep in mind that eligibility for surgery can vary from patient to patient, depending on mental, emotional, and physical health factors.


Are You Eligible for Plastic Surgery?

The best way to find out whether you are eligible for plastic surgery is to schedule a consultation with an experienced surgeon. Dr. Hopkins is always happy to discuss questions of age and eligibility, and help you make wise and informed decisions about whether to seek surgical intervention.

To schedule your consultation, contact J. Hopkins Plastic Surgery at (972) 298-6641.