Why Are Girls 18 and Under Getting Breast Implants?

MakenzieR on 5 May 2011 at 2:00pm

Thought breast implants were only for 18+? Well, that's what the FDA recommends. It's not uncommon for high schoolers with severely asymetrical or underdeveloped breasts to opt for the procedure with parental consent. But according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 47.4% of last year's implants for girls 18 and under were "Purely cosmetic bilateral breast augmentation.

Breast implants in under 18

I did the math, and that's about 2,015 teenage girls who were allowed to get implants just because they wanted bigger boobs. Though breast augmentation on those 18 and under only accounted for 1% of all augmentations in 2010, that still seems like a surprising amount to me.

Maybe that 47% is entirely 18 year olds who ran to the plastic surgeon's office the day after graduation... and maybe I'm just bitter because my parents made me wait, and I still haven't done it...

Does this number surprise you? Would you let your daughter get breast implants before she was out of high school?

Photo credit: Fausto Hernandez Photography on flickr.com     Graph credit: RealSelf

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I agree that implants are medically invasive and high maintenance, but it is the only non-surgical way to increase bust size short of a padded push-up bra. Many women also love their "smaller" implants; and have had them for many years. On the other end of the spectrum, 4600 females aged 13-19 had breast reductions in 2010. Having too much or too little boobs is an emotional burden in both cases.

I could never argue that! Still going through it myself. 

According to 2010 ASPS statistics, there were over 13,000 boys between the ages of 13-19 who had breast reductions. I'm sure many of them opted for surgery at their young age because they were self-conscious and likely teased by their peers. Out of the 2,000 young women mentioned above, how many of them were underdeveloped or had little breast tissue? How many of them simply choose small implants (because similar to women's breasts, they come in all shapes and sizes)?

You bring up a very good point. Just as boys can be teased for having unnaturally prominent boobs, girls can be relentlessly teased for being too flat (something to which I can personally relate). 

However, I see a few key differences in these procedures:

  • Girls are permanently putting something foreign in their body, boys are not
    • Many women hate their implants because they never get used to having an object in their body
  • Girls must think about longterm effects of implants like increased sagging, stretch marks, ruptures, etc.
    • gynecomastia surgery isn't easy, but if it goes well initially there shouldn't be much to think about in ten years. 
  • A boy losing his boobs will likely be found more attractive, but he is becoming a "normal" male
    • A girl enlarging her bust needs to consider how she might be treated with bigger boobs. It doesn't happen to everyone, but a quick look in the breast implant forums show that women can get a lot more attention once they have more cleavage, and it can make some uncomfortable. Particularly if they've never dealt with it before.

They are both serious procedures that require thoughtful decisions. But I still think a girl has more long-term and emotional effects to consider in getting implants than a boy does in losing man-boobs. And at a high school age, are kids emotionally mature enough to fully consider everything? I know I wasn't... And though I still want them, I'm thankful my parents made me wait.

As a mother of 3 daughters, I personally will not make a decision or pay for any cosmetic procedure for my daughters.(I would if it was a genuine deformity) What if I indulged them in breast augmentation or a nose job and later they regretted having it? Especially since implants are not a life time device. (I am on my 3rd set in 25 years after saving up and getting them done the 1st time at 19)You would be paying for something that they will have to pay for again in 5-20 years. Many of us want something at 16 that we don't care about when we are 21. For those of us that still want implants as an adult (as I did and still do) saving the money gives you the time to be sure you really want that procedure!

I am in awe that this is so prevalent now for young women.  Not to show my age, but this is not a subject matter that would have even been remotely discussed when I was a teenager.  My have times have changed!


That's a tough one.  I've learned to never say never, but my gut instinct tells me that I'd never let my daughter go under the knife for any reason until she was old enough to let herself "settle".  Ya know, come to an understanding of who she is as an adult. 


These statistics are not shocking, plastic surgery is no longer restricted to old or very rich people.Even nose jobs, rhinoplasty is very common with girls under 18 years.Everyone wants to look good today and surgery nowdays is fast as well as qiite cheap.


True, but aren't nose jobs for teenagers socially acceptable because the nose is done growing by age 16? Whereas to my knowledge, many woman may continue to breast development into their early 20s.


Wow - this really surprises me that so many parents would condone this for the sake of getting bigger breasts.  This gives me a whole new perspective on what to look for when my 16 yo son brings home a girl for us to meet :-)  But seriously, what you want and find important when you are a teen is so different than what you value later in life - I think it's better for parents to make their daughters wait until adulthood to have this surgery.  I also think the daughters would appreciate the "results" more if they have to pay for the surgery themselves versus their parents footing the bill (just saying, from a mom's point-of-view)


I couldn't agree more! I've always wanted to do it, and my mom encouraged me to wait until after college. I still want to, but I went through periods of debate, and I feel like I wasn't mature enough at the time to know that I was making the right decision for me. And I was holding out hope for that early 20's "growth spurt"...lies!