Am I Too Young For A Breast Enlargement?
There is no actual regulated minimum age for implant surgery although it is not recommended for girls under 18. There are several reasons for this, the main one being that girls can still develop breasts until into their early twenties and if implants are carried out before, the patient will not know what shape and size they will ultimately be. This can ultimately mean that there was no need to have the operation in the first place. It is also recommended that only saline breast implants be used for women under twenty one although there is no official regulation of this. As with any surgery it is always best to choose a fully qualified surgeon who can answer any queries you may have fully and provide references from previous patients.
Implants are usually used for breast augmentation but they can also be used as part of a breast lift and for breast reconstruction. Many young women who are in their late teens and early twenties want to get breast augmentation but may not be aware of the age restrictions that apply.
Watch Mr David Floyd, Consultant Plastic Surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital, explain why breast surgery isn't recommended for anyone under the age of 18:
"As a rule we like to wait until girls are 18 years old before considering breast augmentation and that’s because there could be still some potential breast development after that time. Some breast development goes on probably to 22, 23, but a relatively less percentage of breast development happens during those years. Mostly by the time a girl has reached 18 we can be fairly confident that her breasts aren’t going to change dramatically.
The other reason we wait until that age is that we feel the girls are more psychologically mature and they can be more informed and make a choice for themselves that it’s the right thing for them, because this is not simple straightforward surgery, it comes with its own set of issues, and it’s very important that all patients understand this before agreeing to embark on surgery. I think the maturity of waiting until 18 but also the development reason."
Mr David Floyd, Consultant Plastic Surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital
Why Are There Age Restrictions For Breast Enlargement?
Age restrictions exist for breast surgery for a few key reasons. Firstly, for girls in their teens, their breasts are still developing and therefore, not only would breast surgery not be safe, it might not actually be desired once the breasts have finished growing. Another reason that age restrictions exist is that getting breast surgery is a big decision and not one that a young teenager is necessarily equipped to make.
Types Of Breast Surgery
Before looking at the types of implants available and the age restrictions for them, it's useful to be aware of the types of breast surgery that are available so you're better informed on the subject.
- Breast augmentation – This is usually what people refer to as a 'boob job'. The purpose of breast augmentation is to make the breasts larger and give them more volume through the use of implants. This type of surgery is usually performed on women who are not happy with the current size of their breasts and desire a larger bust. Younger women in their late teens/early 20s might consider breast augmentation as a way to increase confidence and improve their body image.
- Breast lift – Breast lifts are usually performed on women who have sagging breasts, either due to age or pregnancy, and want to give their breasts a more youthful appearance. Implants are sometimes used in breast lift surgery but not in every case. Breast lifts aren't particularly common in younger women since this type of surgery addresses sagging, which is usually a result of age or pregnancy.
- Breast reduction – Breast reduction surgery is for women who are self-conscious about the large size of their breasts or because they're suffering from health problems such as back pain. Breast reduction is a fairly common procedure for younger women and where breast implants are not needed, age restriction is not an issue, provided you're over 18.
- Breast reconstruction – Breast reconstruction is nearly always performed on women who've had their breasts removed as a result of breast cancer. Whilst breast cancer is very rare in women under the age of 21, the option of breast reconstruction is available for women of any age.
Types Of Implants And Their Age Restrictions
The two main implants that are used in breast surgery are silicone implants and saline implants. Below are the differences between the two as well as the age restrictions for each
- Saline implants – Saline implants are filled with sterile salt water. They are empty when first being implanted and then filled with the solution after they're in place. They are available to women how are 18 years or older for breast augmentation and for women of any age for breast reconstruction.
- Silicone implants – Silicone implants come pre-filled before being inserted and are available to women who are 22 years old for breast augmentation and women of any age for breast reconstruction.
Should I Go Ahead With It?
There is no law in place that restricts you getting silicone breast implants under the age of 22. Each surgeon will have a different attitude to this but the reason that 22 is the age that most surgeons stick to is due to the fact that a lot women's breasts are still developing in their early twenties. This means that women who decide to get breast surgery when they're still in their late teens might not have actually felt they needed it if they waited until their breasts had fully developed.
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Am I A Suitable Candidate?
Suitable candidates for breast surgery should meet the minimum age requirements as well as:
- A positive and realistic attitude about the results that can be achieved. This is very important. The attitude you have toward breast surgery will play a big part in how happy you are with the results. Younger women can be very self-conscious about scars and whilst the scars that are left from breast surgery are usually minimal and well-hidden, it's still something to bear in mind.
- No existing medical conditions that might impair the healing process. - If you have any serious medical conditions that you need to take medication for then it's incredibly important that you inform your surgeon about this. There are certain conditions that will impede the healing process and therefore make breast surgery a bad idea.
- No form of depression. Any form of depression can interfere with a health decision making process. Self-esteem issues are common in teenage girls and breast surgery might sometimes be seen as a way of improving self-esteem when addressing more serious underlying issues is a better approach