My teenage daughter wants her breasts enlarged surgically. What should I say?

A plastic surgeon explains to Lisa Salmon how parents can discuss the pros and cons of breast augmentation with teenage girls.

My 17-year-old daughter is obsessed with having her breasts surgically enlarged, and won’t accept  she’s too young for this type of operation. What can we do to help make her happier with her natural shape and stop her wanting surgery?

Naveen Cavale, a consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon at King’s College Hospital , London, and the founder of Real Plastic Surgery says: “When I see women requesting a breast enlargement, I often hear they’ve been thinking about this from a very young age – as young as 13 sometimes.

“I do occasionally get asked to see teenagers who are requesting a breast enlargement in my clinic, and often without a parent. Without a doubt your daughter is too young for surgery, and I don’t know of any UK surgeon who would operate for cosmetic reasons at this age.

I’d discourage surgery until about the age of 22, when they’ve started to settle into adulthood, and when the breasts have stopped growing.

(Thinkstock/PA)

“But these discussions are often not easy to have with a teenager, especially because the reasons why they’ve turned up are compelling for them. Often they include peer pressure, intimacy with a partner and self-esteem issues, and they may not be that comfortable discussing them with a parent.

“My advice, rather than trying to outright discourage your daughter from surgery, is to have an open discussion about it. Keep her on-side. She will be so much better off with your support – remember, all operations have the potential for complications, and not everyone out there who’s offering advice may have her best interests at heart.

“Try to find out why she wants a breast enlargement. She should only be having surgery to make herself feel better, not to compete with, or impress someone else. Think about going together to discuss options with a sensible and properly qualified plastic surgeon. Then, think together as to whether surgery is the best option in the first place – she may feel very differently about it in a few years’ time, but if not, go back to your surgeon.

“When I do see young adults, for example the 18-22-year-olds requesting a breast enlargement, I am always happiest when they turn up with a parent (typically mum), too. They have often discussed things lots beforehand, and this is a healthy sign. They can also discuss things again after having seen me. I almost always ask them to both return to see me for a second time.

Realistic expectations are very important before going under the knife.

“I’ve also found those who wait and then proceed with surgery are usually happier with the results, perhaps because they better understand and appreciate the realities of what can be achieved. Realistic expectations are very important before going under the knife.

“Your daughter will almost certainly be better off waiting until she is a little older.”

- Press Association

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