WPRO radio recently did a segment on Plastic Surgery in Teenagers. We have so many ways to help teenagers who may be struggling with issues of self confidence and self esteem. This is especially true with those who have birth defects or developmental deformities. There are a number of examples on our website to demonstrate this.
Pediatric Fat Transfer: You can view examples of patients who were born with birth defects, cancers and developmental abnormalities; we used their own fat and stem cells to rebuild their faces. This is something we have pioneered here at Brown. We now have 38 patients who have been helped with this type of treatment. I have been honored to teach the technique to surgeons across the United States and also in Moscow, North Africa, and Brazil.
With ear pinning/reshaping, we help teenagers who may be bullied and feel self conscious around their peers. We can help them feel more normal so they may not be teased anymore.
Rhinoplasty can also be very helpful for certain teens as long as they are good candidates with realistic expectations, but they do need to be mature. For example, we had a patient who was very depressed. She was sent to me by her pediatrician for nasal surgery. Both parents brought her in as they were so concerned about her not socializing and acting depressed. Together, we went over her face and what she was being teased and ridiculed about. We decided together to take away the hump in her nose and also bring out her chin to artistically match her new nose. Post-operatively, she was able to stop taking her anti-depressants, go to college, graduate and tell me she was more confident with higher self esteem throughout the process.
Gynecomastia, otherwise known as breast enlargement in teenage males, is remarkably common. In this patient, you can view an example of a mild case, but many are more significant. Breast enlargement may keep boys from EVER going to the beach, trying out for sports, or taking their shirt off for any reason. We have a specialized technique that removes the tissue and hides the scars. It lets these teenagers live a normal life with much more confidence.
This is such an exciting area for us to be able to help teenagers at a critical time in their lives. We are very careful in choosing our teenage patients. We do not treat all teens who come to us, and may instead have them wait until they are older and more mature. But in the right patient, plastic surgery can be transformational in their development, confidence and self esteem.
INTERVIEW: WPRO Radio by Kim Kalunian
Listen to the full interview or read below in case you missed it on radio.
“The rise of the selfies, the celebrities looking perfect on Instagram it’s pressuring a plastic surgery boom among teens. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons nearly 18,000 teens from ages 13 to 19 got some form of Botox in 2013. So on the line with us now is Dr. Patrick Sullivan. He’s the director cosmetic Plastic Surgery at Rhode Island Hospital.”
Kim: Good morning Dr. Sullivan
Dr. Pat Sullivan: Good morning Kim, so nice to be with you
Kim: Thanks for joining us! Ok tell us, is the rise of the selfie and people looking perfect on Instagram, is it really pushing teens to go under the knife?
Dr. Pat Sullivan: Is seems to be more common for teens to go under the knife and also to get injectables. Then you have people like Kylie Jenner out there who is getting so much press with what she has done with her lips and who knows what she had done at this young age. I think that’s an unfortunate trend because there is so many incredible things that we can do for teens that won’t make them look like they’re out of the norm of the population. We can have them look very very natural and artistically beautiful and not overdone like a lot of other people do.
Kim: Bill and I were just talking about this, what is the cost of the typical procedure like this and is the parents paying for their teenagers to have plastic surgery?
Dr. Pat Sullivan: Well I think it varies a great deal Kim and depending on what they are actually having done for example if it’s Botox or injectables to their lips. There are some people who will earn the money themselves to have a rhinoplasty. If they have been ridiculed and hounded by people both online and at school about having a big hump on their nose, they’ll be working summers and saving money to get them hump taken away and have a beautiful nose that artistically matches their face. So they will save their own surgery. A lot of the times, parents are paying for part of it or for all of it. It goes a lot of different directions.
Kim: Now obviously you said, if people are being ridiculed, if it’s really harming their self- esteem, I can see it making sense for someone. Are there good reasons to get plastic surgery and are their bad reasons to do it?
Dr. Pat Sullivan: Well yes, and lets talk about the bad reasons first. We want to make sure that people come to us are very good candidates for surgery and they have reasonable expectations. We also want to make sure they are mature enough. We certainly don’t operate on everybody who comes and wants to have something done to their face, their lips, or breasts. But there are really good reasons, there are people who have protruding ears and they’ve been having people ridicule them for years and years about that. They come in and are really anxious to have this taken care of so that they can just look normal again. Or, as I said, people with rhinoplasty. That’s one of the most common procedures we do to help teens. Sixteen, seventeen, eighteen year olds will come in and have nasal reshaping surgery. They have probably a lot of beautiful characteristics of their face but their nose might be very masculine when it’s a girl or just something that is really out of proportion to their face. So I think that is an excellent reason to have cosmetic surgery at that point.
Kim: Obviously we hear about teenagers doing things that they sometimes might regret, like getting a tattoo, getting a certain piercing…. I’m sure plastic surgery sometimes falls under that umbrella, are there regrets down the line when they do something?
Dr. Pat Sullivan: Well I have yet to see any regrets and I have been doing this for over 20 years with the people that I chose to treat. The ones that make it through and actually get treatment usually have very realistic goals. For example teen age guys who have large breasts and haven’t taken off their shirts in public since growing up. They won’t go to the beach, they won’t go out for sports. When we get their breasts to a normal shape breast for a male rather than being enlarged, they are just ecstatic and able to live a normal life. They are really happy about it. I think it’s only when people get overdone that they might really regret having plastic surgery. We never overdue patients.
Our goal is to have people have a very artistically natural enhancement and nothing that is overdone. We NEVER want people to look like they’ve been done.
Kim: So the moral of the story is that it is a self-confidence issue. If it’s really something that you feel in the heart of hearts that you need to have done, get it done but don’t overdue and don’t try to look like Kylie Jenner with the puffed up lips.
Dr. Pat Sullivan: I think that’s a great moral. You hit it right on the head Kim. That’s beautiful.
Kim: Alright, fantastic. Dr. Patrick Sullivan, the Director of Cosmetic Surgery at Rhode Island Hospital. Thank you for filling us in.