Is Italy's Ban on Teen Breast Implants Reasonable?

Teen girls in Italy will soon be banned from having breast implants, according to Bloomberg News. What is the standard in the US? Is this ban in Italy even reasonable?

Doctor Answers 20

Age Limits for Breast Implants

There may be appropriate situations for a teenager to have implant surgery, as for reconstruction of deformity.

Cosmetic breast augmentation is generally not judicious in teenage women who are physically still actively developing.

No less importantly is consideration of the implications for psychosocial development and self-image.

Under ideal circumstances, the determination of appropriateness of elective surgery results from a thoughtful and informed decision by an adult in consultation with their surgeon. 

Government regulation of an individual's health care options will always be a contentious issue.

Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

Breast surgery in teens. How old should you be? (how young is too young?)

18. The FDA and Italy have decided you should be 18 before doing cosmetic surgery to change your breast. I am a girl who believes in girl power. I think an 18 year old girl in these informational times can be astute and well informed. BUT Your teens is a time of immense change. Girls mature at different times. When did you get your period? Stop growing? Is your weight fluctating? (And if not yet, have you gone to college and gotten the freshman 15?) Who you are and what you want can change dramatically. 18 is a sweet spot in that it tends to be between high school and college for many women. Even then, 18 year olds vary, and some are wise for their years, some not so much. Clearly there are exceptions: Poland syndrome, asymmetry, etc. But I think girls need to grow into themselves first. The option to operate is always there in the future. I like 18.

Lauren Greenberg, MD
Palo Alto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Italy's Ban on Teen Breast Implants

I agree with the spirit of the December 2009 Breast Augmentation on Teens Italian ban NOT with the letter. The non-Plastic surgery public, including lawmakers, do not understand the difference between reconstructive and cosmetic breast surgery. While putting an implant in a 17 year old girl just so she can fill a much larger bra is what the public is used to seeing, they have no clue of the pain and desperation of young women who have huge breast asymmetry, under developed (Poland's syndrome) or constricted breasts. While the same well-intentioned legislators would encourage such women with facial deformities to have corrective surgery by placing this ban they are effectively punishing young women who are not vain but who just want to look normal.

The vast majority of American Plastic surgeons do NOT augment women under the age of 18 and I doubt our Italian colleagues feel differently.

Dr. Peter Aldea

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 109 reviews

Teenage Breast Implants

Cosmetic surgery in patients under the age of 18 not recommended...however, reconstructive surgery, and even utilization of breast prostheses for correction of congenital breast anomalies, can be a fantastic use of plastic surgery resources to bring change to a young females live. However, even reconstructive surgery must be performed only after significant deliberation, discussion, counseling, preparation and education as well as parental consent. I personally do not perform cosmetic procedures on patients under the age of 18 without advising the patient and their parents extensively and must, only after ensuring understanding of expectations nd limitations of the proposed surgical procedure, obtain parent's consent. If I feel the parent is pushing the child and the child is not 100% on board (physically, emotionally, psycologically, etc.), then it is a no go.

I hope this helps!

Dr. C

John Philip Connors III, MD, FACS
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Age limits on breast augmentation

The standard (not law) in the United States that most board-certified plastic surgeons abide by is not performing cosmetic breast augmentation on any women under the age of 18.  This standard is accepted by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.  Most teenagers are not ready mentally to undergo elective cosmetic surgery.  Physically, their bodies may still be developing.  There are exceptions to this rule and that is why the surgeon, patient, and her family should come to a mutual decision.  Reconstruction cases are completely different.  There are teenagers with severe asymmetry of their chest wall that will undergo placement of breast implants.  That is accepted by most plastic surgeons.

Naveen Setty, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 75 reviews

Age limits on breast augmentation

Breast augmentation and cosmetic procedures in general should only be performed in adolescents if there are clear indications. Age cut offs may be somewhat arbitrary as physical and psychological development is variable.

Olivia Hutchinson, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Italian ban on breast implants in teens--a good idea?

Government, in my opinion, has no business practicing medicine.  It is up to the surgeon, the patient, and her family (parent or guardian) to decide what is right for the patient. 

I'm not a particular advocate of teenagers having breast augmentation--in fact, many should NOT, as their breasts and bodies are still growing and changing.  However, breast implants can make a huge positive difference in a girl's life if they are used to correct significant breast asymmetry or chest wall deformity.

Carmen Kavali, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Age Limits on Implants

Yes its true that girls under the age of 18 in Italy will not be allowed to get implants. However this is a fair call because your body is still growing at that age and getting implants when you aren't sure what size you will be after you are finished growing is just not smart. In the USA there is not age limit but i would not recommend and implant to anyone so young. The only age thing in the US is that you have to be 22 years old for a silicone implant, however if you are that desperate you can still get a saline.

Kimberly A. Henry, MD
Greenbrae Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Age requirements for breast augmentation

Breast augmentation can be performed for cosmetic and reconstructive purposes.  In young patients, there may be an overlap between these two surgical goals.  In most cases, both surgeon and patient should exercise good judgement before proceeding with a breast augmentation.  In all cases, it is difficult to be judgemental about age requirements for breast augmentation until you carefully examine the specific factors in each case. 

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

Italy bans breast implants for young girls

The ban on breast implants will be for patients under 18. This is not unreasonable but should have exceptions for special circumstances. There are some problems young girls may face that should be allowed to be treated with breast implants. For example, some women are born with one breast REALLY different from the other. This can be uncomfortable socially for obvious reasons. Then there are some girls born missing one or both breasts. In these types of situations (and maybe a few others) there should be an exception to the ban.

In the United States, it is left to the doctor and the patient (and patient's parents when she is under 18). In my practice I have placed implants in patients younger than 18 only a few times. It is always done with parents' consent and after a lot of discussion with the patient and her family. I believe that if the patient has a good reason and she and her family agree, there is no reason not to do the surgery.

I hope this info helps!

Adam Rubinstein, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 20 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.