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Plastic surgery among teens on the rise

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CHARLOTTE -- It might not surprise you to see an increase in plastic surgery procedures, but the age of the patients may. Statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons show that plastic surgery procedures in teens 18 and under increased from roughly 14,000 in 1996 to roughly 219,000 in 2010.

While the data can’t be compared “apples to apples” – the 1996 statistics were taken from only board-certified plastic surgeons, and the 2010 statistics were taken for board-certified physicians – the increase is still drastic.

Heidi Rhyne, a parent of twin ninth graders and one sixth grader, says while her teens have never asked her to get plastic surgery, she already knows what her answer would be.

"I would definitely say no, because I feel that they need to understand that this is their body, this is the way it is, instead of trying the easy way out, trying to change it," she said.

That's why she was surprised to hear about such a dramatic increase in plastic surgeries from the mid-90s through the past couple of years. Dr. Arthur Calabretta says plastic surgeries have increased over all age brackets over the past 20 years, and they've seen a higher demand for some teen surgeries.

"Nose surgery, ear surgery, and some breast surgery,” said Calabretta. He says he's not sure why they're seeing the increase.

"Probably with the media, TV. There's a lot more contact with some of the things that are in magazines, so they look at those magazines and say, 'I want to look like that,’” said Calabretta.

But his biggest concern is whether or not the child has developed enough, which is why out of the 15 or 16 interested patients he's seen over the past year, he's only operated on seven or eight.

"I usually will ask them how much they've changed, say over the last year or two, and if they've kind of become stable. We'll have a long discussion about whether it's the right procedure for them," said Calabretta.

And he says it does more than just change something physical.

"I found that probably a lot of them, they have a high level of confidence, maybe their self-image has been improved,” said Calabretta.

He says the most important thing is to be selective at that age and for parents to have a serious discussion about it with their children before they go under the knife.

Some Charlotte teens and parents say they're aware of many plastic surgery procedures being given as graduation gifts for teens. Calabretta says he has operated on several patients within the last year going from high school to college who wanted the new appearance at their new school.

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