America’s Teens Are Already Planning to Get Plastic Surgery

Teenagers are already planning for the plastic surgery procedures they want done, a new report from vitamin and supplement company Thorne found.

When surveying a group of 13- to 17-year-olds, one in four say they plan to get cosmetic surgery to combat the appearance of aging.

And surprisingly, boys were much more likely to let the fear of aging get to them. One in five, or 20 percent of boys, said they planned on cosmetic surgery, compared to just 17 percent of girls.

However, the number of teens planning a life with plastic surgery was far higher than the national average, which hovered at just 6 percent.

teen girl skincare mask getty
Teen girls using skincare products. Today’s teenagers are planning to get plastic surgeries at significant rates, a new Thorne report found, and experts blame the rise of social media.

undefined undefined/Getty Images

Psychology experts say the fixation on aging might come down to how that group uniquely grew up amid social media. Websites like Instagram and TikTok routinely feature filters and editing tools to create largely fake but convincing beauty ideals.

“I think we are only scratching the surface when it comes to seeing all the layers of impact growing up in the era of social media has on the brain and developing psyche,” licensed psychologist Lindsay Jernigan told Newsweek. “In the age of social media, every moment is potentially public. We don’t just look in the mirror and see ourselves, we imagine what hundreds or thousands of others might see.”

Jernigan said human brains aren’t designed to evaluate themselves in every waking moment as we look at our phones and social media pages. This, combined with a culture that fears death and aging can bring an influx of worry to the younger generation.

“In a culture where social media makes it all about being seen, looking older in a culture that marginalizes the elderly is a terrifying inevitability,” Jernigan said.

Psychotherapist Kimberly Parker said social media also contributes to an unrealistic goal that the new generation has been relentless in chasing, and surgery is one extra tool to get to that ideal.

But the male tendency to seek out plastic surgery is a relatively new phenomenon, and it might reflect our changing society, Parker added.

“I have seen studies on psychology today where it states that more men are going to die alone, so when this seed is planted into the heads of young men, they are more likely to believe if they maintain their youth then they can escape this so-called fate,” Parker told Newsweek.

The rise of the manosphere, which often features men sharing harmful ideas about masculinity and women, has also likely worsened boys’ fears.

“With all of these male gurus that are spreading male toxicity instead of positivity, it’s using manipulation to make males think that all they need to do is stay fit and control women,” Parker said. “It creates a self-centered narcissistic personality that is all about looks and being in control of women.”

Still, young teens are also becoming more sexually fluid and evolving past gender norms, which could open up more boys to beauty treatments down the line, Rachel Goldberg, a marriage and family therapist and founder of Rachel Goldberg Therapy in Studio City, California said.

“Traditional markers of masculinity, such as physical strength, humor, and intellect, are now complemented or in some instances being substituted by beauty as a way to express oneself,” Goldberg told Newsweek.

Goldberg cautioned against thinking early plastic surgery procedures were all reflective of a society changing for the better though.

If teenagers get plastic surgery too soon, they could effectively increase their own desire to get more surgeries and beauty enhancements down the line. This benefits the beauty industry but poses significant mental and physical health risks, Goldberg said.

“The early adoption of plastic surgery though can become a slippery slope, especially as people age and their faces naturally change,” Goldberg said. “If individuals undergo surgery at a young age, they may never see their natural aging process and could alter their appearance in ways that affect their overall look as they mature.”