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The Right Age for Breast Augmentation

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What age should you be to elect breast augmentation? If you think my answer is, “It depends,” of course you’re right. Everyone’s needs are unique; there’s no one answer that works across the board. But there are some considerations that generally apply to breast augmentation surgery. Especially if you’re a young woman, take some time to think things through.

The FDA’s Answer

For one answer to the question about the appropriate age for breast augmentation, you can turn to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In its role as protector and promoter of public health, the FDA regulates breast implants as it does all medical devices. The organization has approved saline-filled implants for women 18 years old and older, and silicone gel implants for women aged 22 and older (breast reconstruction patients can be younger). Why the difference? The FDA feels that the risk of “silent rupture” for silicone implants requires increased vigilance and the organization wants to be sure women are mature enough to understand this.

Physical and Emotional Development

Most plastic surgeons will perform breast augmentation on women in their late teens if they feel the patient is mature enough to be making a good choice. But consider this about your physical maturity: your breasts will continue to develop and change into your 20’s. Waiting just a few years to make decisions might be well worth it.

Think carefully about your emotional maturity level too. Although you may consider yourself quite levelheaded for your age, and you may well be, we all gain a different perspective as the years pass. Something that seems important to you now, like bigger breasts, may not seem too critical a few years from now.

Opening the Door to More Surgery

One aspect of breast enlargement you may not be thinking about is what happens down the road. Many young people find it hard to imagine what life will be like as they age—it’s natural to find it difficult to envision. But you will age, and your body will change. Implants will cause your breasts to sag more than they otherwise would. The larger the implants, the greater the droop.

Which brings up a related point. Once you’ve had breast augmentation, you are likely to need more surgery in time. Many breast enhancement patients find they need a breast lift later on to boost their bigger breasts. In addition, it’s not at all unusual for an implant to leak and need replacing. Neither of these reasons for additional surgery need deter you from breast augmentation, but you should opt for the initial procedure with your eyes open.

One Young Woman’s Story

So, do all these points add up to waiting until you’re at least well into your 20’s to have breast augmentation? It depends! Waiting would be my recommendation for most very young women. But it’s not difficult to find examples where the right answer was the opposite answer.

About three years ago I wrote an article on a young college student who had just had breast implant surgery. She described herself as tall and athletically built. She said she attended college in Southern California and engaged in many warm climate sports such as swimming, running and beach volleyball.

Physically, this young woman said she was flat. Tall, muscular, powerful and extremely out of proportion. She felt she did not look right in her clothing—sports gear and otherwise. She longed to be able to don a bathing suit, her volleyball outfit and regular college attire and not feel embarrassed. She did not want big implants; she just wanted to look, in her own description, “normal.”

How did she feel after her surgery? In a word, relieved. Yes, she gushed a bit more than that, but the overall feeling she had was contentment. She looked forward to simply going about her life without even thinking about her breasts any longer.

More to Consider

The fact is, there is much to ponder before choosing breast enlargement surgery no matter what your age is. Women who are planning a family need to understand that there’s a small chance breast implants will interfere with breast-feeding. And older women considering a breast lift should know that cosmetic surgeons often recommend adding an implant to compensate for volume lost over the years.

So, examine all aspects of breast augmentation. Research the procedure on Web sites that aren’t marketing a surgeon or surgeons. Talk to friends and loved ones about your thoughts. And don’t forget to think about your age and your future.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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