The Surprising Plastic Surgery Procedure That’s Becoming Commonplace Among Teenagers

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In May 2015, Miami dermatologist S. Manjula Jegasothy, MD, noticed a trend taking over at her office.

“Patients requesting lip fillers became much more prevalent as soon as Kylie Jenner admitted to her new lips on Instagram that month,” she says. “Ever since, the demographic of patients wanting lip fillers have been getting younger and younger.”

In the past, Dr. Jegasothy says, the median age for this particular procedure (among her patients) was 30 to 35 years old. “Now it’s 25 years old. In fact, daughters of some of my patients as young as 14 and 15 have asked to get lip fillers, but after a discussion with them and their mom, I generally wait until they are 16 to do it.”

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New York plastic surgeon Z. Paul Lorenc, MD, says he’s seeing a similar trend, but he feels pretty strongly that anyone younger than 18 years old is too young, adding that parental consent is also needed up until that age. 

“However, under special and rare circumstances, we will treat a patient that is 16 or 17 with parent/guardian consent. For example, I had a patient come in who was 16/17 years old who had significant lip asymmetry. With parental consent, I injected her. I see a small percentage of patients under 18 years old coming in for lip filler procedures, but I see a more significant percentage of patients 19 years old and patients in their 20s coming in requesting this.”

Those ages might still sound pretty young, but the stats don’t lie. According to a survey by the The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) released earlier this year, there was a 64 percent increase in cosmetic surgery or injectable treatments in patients under age 30 last year.

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“One of the trends is definitely an uptick in interest in lips,” says facial plastic surgeon and president of AAFPRS Edwin F. Williams, MD. “We do often have patients coming in referencing ‘Kylie Jenner lip’ when asking about lip enhancement procedures.”

But, while Kylie might have sparked the trend, she’s not always the example for what patients request, according to Dr. Williams. “More often than not, our patients say they DO NOT want Kylie’s lips specifically. They want that full, plump look, but come in looking for something more modest and more natural. If patients want something more dramatic, we counsel them not to veer outside the realm of what works with their existing shape and to stick with what will look natural.”

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Dr. Williams adds that one thing is certain: Kylie is certainly influencing people and increasing awareness in lip enhancement procedures—especially because she is so entrenched in Instagram and social media, which is especially impactful for our younger patients. “In general, the younger patients use Instagram as a search engine for pictures of lips that they like,” Dr. Jegasothy says, and adds that she also uses the app as a sort of consulting tool. “My patients can pick a look that they like, then we would discuss together what would best suit their individual facial structure and mouth.”

Of course, Dr. Lorenc points out, a lot of women are just genetically predisposed to thin lips and they simply come in wanting to fix them for this reason as well. “Hydrochloric acid for lip filler is also completely reversible and painless with a block, which is another reason for its popularity.”

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