The third week of August is fast approaching and I’m getting ready to send my rising senior back to UC Berkeley. I’m also preparing some young patients to return to their own university programs. No, I haven’t taken up anything as dodgy as the temporary “vacation” breast augmentation, as espoused by Dr. Norman Rowe. Based in Orange County, my practice has concentrated on breast reshaping and facial contouring procedures for young women, aged 18-22. Why offer body modification to youngsters who are barely at the start of their lives? I believe that the need to “fit in” is one of the greatest drivers for elective surgery. Surviving adolescence is increasingly difficult, if the perception is you are different from the “herd”.

Social media regularly features “it” girls and standards of beauty are clearly defined. Outliers are not accepted. It’s generally accepted that the adult female breast is symbolic of youth, fertility, sexuality and health, however young women with excessively large and floppy breasts aren’t convinced. Why complain about DD cup size? “Laura” is a 19-year-old soccer player and a sorority sister whose eloquence and organization convinced me that breast reduction in teens is feasible. She is slender, active, pretty and compellingly presented her case to her parents, Family Practitioner and Insurance company, which stipulated a resection weight/breast. Her outpatient procedure was uneventful, taking an aggregate weight of 2.5lbs and her recovery seemingly effortless. Is this surprising? Not at all, given her maturity, intelligence and practical nature. Three weeks post-op, she was resplendent, thrilled that the surgery had been successful, her musculoskeletal complaints resolved and the prospects for age/frame appropriate attire assured. Her renewed confidence is stunning.

Consider “Sasha’s” wardrobe predicament, a 21-year-old volleyball player who has a 2-cup size difference: a right beautiful “B” and a left droopy “D”. She originally contemplated breast implants with a unilateral breast lift but opted for the lift alone. Like “Laura”, she fully realizes that young women who have breast reduction may experience regrowth, after periods of hormonal fluctuation: pregnancy/lactation, weight gain/loss, menopause. For the present, she doesn’t want to commit to the maintenance of implants, especially with the possibility of “digging” on the volleyball court. She dedicated part of last summer’s vacation for her convalescence, including Cutera XL laser therapy to the vertical limb of the breast lift. In less than a year, the scars are imperceptible and she is relieved that the symmetry will obviate any future scrutiny both from team mates or boyfriends.

Facial procedures such as submental liposuction, otoplasty and rhinoplasty are equally transformative. Sociology and culture has shifted. Given appropriate counseling, chronologically young individuals can be informed consumers, make good choices and obtain results which positively impact their lives.

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