How young is too young for plastic surgery to boost your confidence?

If all it takes is a little nip here or filler there to make you feel like the million bucks you are, then why not go ahead and do it, right? Not so fast. I’m not giving all plastic surgery an all-access pass because there certainly are caveats. One of them being age. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, nearly 219,000 cosmetic plastic surgery procedures were performed on people ages 13 to 19 in 2010. That’s a pretty big number and raises the question — how young is too young for plastic surgery? Of course, I’m not a medical professional. But I do live in Los Angeles, so I’m somewhat of an unofficial expert in the field of elective surgery and cosmetic procedures. Here are my thoughts.

Physical and mental maturity

Maturity is more important than your actual age when it comes to going under the knife.

First, there are physical considerations. Your body obviously changes a lot when you’re young. Getting surgery too early could mean that you’re “fixing” issues that won’t actually be problems in a few years. You could grow into that nose or lose weight once you hit your growth spurt. It’s much better to wait until your body is fully grown before electing surgery. A few years of the wisdom that comes with age may teach you to love your features as they are.

Equally as important is emotional maturity. You need to be mature enough to understand what plastic surgery really is. You need to realize that a new nose, no matter how fabulous, isn’t really going to change your whole life and that plastic surgery has real risks associated with it.

Early bird gets the itch

It’s way too easy to go way too extreme with plastic surgery. It seems like for some people, plastic surgery can turn into an addiction. And the earlier you start, the more time you’re giving yourself to go overboard. Sure, it might start with some preventative Botox at 22, but then by the time you’re 65, your faces looks like a swollen-lipped, scared cat. I’d caution against starting too early just because it means you’re opening Pandora’s box. Or in the words of my favorite snack chip, once you pop, you can’t stop.

It’s not magic

Sure, a wrinkle-free forehead might make you feel better about what you see in the mirror, but surgery isn’t self-confidence magic. The truth is none of us are perfect. We all have flaws, and even plastic surgery can’t make us perfect. Look at me. I’m so proud of my body now and look better than I ever have. But is my body perfect? Far from it! I’m going to spend more energy on self-acceptance and hitting the gym to tone up. Being comfortable with my flaws is going to make me far happier in the long run than a surgical procedure that only fixes half the problem. And I think that’s true with everyone. If you’re really looking for a confidence boost, surgery probably isn’t your answer. At least not the only one.