Can a 17 Year Old Girl Have Liposuction?

My 17 year old daughter is perfectly proportioned from the waist up (plus her buttocks); however her entire life she has had large thighs to the point she consistently has chafing between them. She works out 4+ days a week and eats healthy (or as healthy as a teenager ever eats), but her thighs never diminish in size. She cries herself to sleep most nights and gets so depressed when shopping for clothes that she won't leave her room. Is she too young to consider lipo on thigh?

Doctor Answers 8

Teenage Liposuction Is An Option Worth Considering

Although there has been a rise in the number of cosmetic surgeries over the last several years, the percentage of teenagers (those 18 years old and younger) having cosmetic surgery has remained relatively constant and is less than 1%. Among teenagers, nonsurgical procedures such as laser hair removal, microdermabrasion, and chemical peels are among the most popular. The most frequently performed surgical procedures for teenagers are otoplasty, rhinoplasty, liposuction, breast reduction, treatment of gynecomastia (male breast reduction), and correction of breast asymmetry.

Many physicians agree that for appropriately selected teenage patients, cosmetic plastic surgery can have a positive impact on both their physical and emotional development. When evaluating a teenager for a cosmetic surgical procedure, it is important to consider the following: physical maturity, emotional maturity, their motivation for surgery, their understanding of the procedure, and their expectations of surgery and the post-op recovery.

Stubborn fat deposits can be a familial condition. Liposuction may be appropriate for a select number of teenagers (of normal body weight) with localized fat deposits, after diet and exercise fail to achieve improvements.

From your description it sounds as if your daughter is content with her body, and is only unhappy with her inner thighs because they are disproportionate. Putting the physical appearance aside, she does experience skin irritation resulting from her inner thighs rubbing together. And she is an active individual who has tried exercise but failed. By all your accounts it certainly seems that this is a significant hereditary fat deposit that will not improve; so liposuction is certainly an option.

Your daughter’s attitude and behavior may certainly correlate with a lower self-esteem, which may subsequently lead to hinder the full potential of her physical and emotional growth and development. I get a sense that as her mother you are open to considering surgery as an option to address her concerns and unhappiness. And the tone of your comments does not seem to take a casual approach to this surgical option.

Counseling might be worth considering, and may have some benefits;  but it does not sound as if your daughter is unreasonable in her desire to have an upper and lower body that are proportionate. Instead of being unhappy with many aspects of her appearance, your comments suggest that she is unhappy with only a single aspect of her appearance. This is an important point, because if her thighs are her only source of unhappiness the anticipation would be that liposuction would improve her body shape, which would in turn improve her self-image, which would improve her development and outlook on life. This is in contrast to a teenager who is never happy with her appearance regardless of what procedure is done. This maybe something that the parents can assess and address, or it may be something that requires a medical evaluation and counseling.

One other thought worth mentioning – in certain situations parents may realize that their teenage son or daughter is going to have a cosmetic surgical procedure once they turn 18 years of age and no longer need parental consent. Many will take the opportunity to become very involved and offer their support. They recognize that by using their knowledge and experience they can offer a tremendous amount of control and guidance (that would otherwise be lost) throughout the decision making process.

There is no doubt that teenagers experience a lot of peer pressure to conform, to not look different, and to be accepted. Certainly your daughter may feel similar pressure to have a proportionate body shape in order to be accepted by her classmates. But it is also reasonable for an individual to be dissatisfied with their appearance based solely on how they wish to see themselves. (Certainly that body image may be socially-based, but that does not automatically mean that such a desire is pathologic).

Your family should have a candid conversation about your daughters concerns and the possible solutions available to help her address her unhappiness. If you and your daughter feel surgery is an option worth pursuing further, schedule a consultation to learn more. Speaking with a plastic surgeon will help put liposuction into perspective so you can decide if and when surgery is appropriate.

Best wishes, Ken Dembny

Milwaukee Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Some Seventeen Year Olds May Benefit From Liposuction

I am sorry to hear about your daughter's distress. The good news is that she sounds like a good candidate for liposuction to remove the excess fat between her thighs. I/we have performed this procedure dozens of times on men and women of all ages in a simple 1 hr procedure under local anesthesia. Recovery is very fast with patients back to exercising the next day and looking great after a few weeks. You might also consider a non-invasive fat-elimination technique, such as CoolSculpting, Thermi, or Vanquish. Please arrange a consultation with a board-certified dermatologist to find out how your daughter can be helped.

Mitchel P. Goldman, MD
San Diego Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Liposuction on disproportionately large thighs can profoundly improve a young girl's self-esteem.

There is little doubt that liposuction on your daughter's disproportionate thighs has the potential to dramatically help your daughter's self-esteem. It is easy to undergo under local anesthesia and with your consent, will probably be the best $5-6,000 you ever spent on her. Sincerely,

David Hansen,MD

David Hansen, MD
Beverly Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Should a 17 year old consider liposuction

Certainly there are some body shapes which are inherited, and contouring with liposuction is an attractive solution. It is even possible to reduce a heavy straight thigh. At age 17 with depression, liposuction is not the first step in to achieve inner health. We would suggest counseling and a monitored and custom exercise program. Fortunately, her thigh will diminish in size under such care, and depression will improve.

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Tumescent liposuction is very safe and effective.


A girl's body is formed by the age of seventeen.  And her bulges sound significant.  So I think it is entirely reasonable to consider liposuction for her.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Too young for cosmetic surgery?

Without an exam or pictures it is extremely difficult to determine if your daughter would be a candidate for liposuction.  Body image is such a big issue with young women such as your daughter.  As long as she has consent from her parents, there is no reason she would not be able to have cosmetic surgery. However, looking into some counseling for her body image concerns would be very helpful for her.

James E. Murphy, MD, FACS
Reno Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Liposuction in a 17 year old

I am sorry to hear about your daughter's issues, particularly that she cries herself to sleep and is depressed when shopping. Rather than considering liposuction while she is still under age, I would encourage that you seek counseling for her to address the body image issues. I would not perform liposuction on her until she reaches 18 and has dealt with the psychological issues.

Robert L. Kraft, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

17 and Liposuction

    Liposuction of the thighs may be appropriate, particularly with the parent's consent.  An exam and consultation will be necessary to assess goals and maturity.  Find the plastic surgeon with ELITE credentials who performs hundreds of liposuction procedures each year.  Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA

Kenneth B. Hughes, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 492 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.