Age Limit for Breast Augmentation
One question plastic surgeons get asked a lot is “what is the best age to get breast implants?” While there are definitely times when getting breast implants isn’t the best or most appropriate decision, it’s difficult to point to one exact age that’s the “right” time for everyone.
A number of factors influence whether a woman is ready for breast augmentation and implants. Age plays a very small role in the decision. Here are a few things that can help you decide if breast implants are right for you, whether you’re 21, 33, 45, or 55.
Age Recommendations Based on Implant Type
If there is one concrete factor that influences the best age for breast implants, it’s the type of implants you choose. There are minimum age requirements for each type of implant.
Saline implants are FDA-approved for women over the age of 18. But the FDA has limited the use of silicone implants, which tend to be much more popular and have a more natural feel, to women over the age of 22.
Although silicone implants are approved for women over the age of 22, it is not against the law or illegal for a surgeon to use them for a younger woman. It’s more that the FDA has determined that being over age 22 is preferable for women who are considering getting silicone implants.
AGE RECOMMENDATIONS BASED
ON THE REASON FOR SURGERY
Another factor that can determine the appropriate age for breast augmentation and breast implants is the reason you’re having surgery. While the FDA has approved saline implants for women over age 18 for cosmetic reasons and silicone implants for women over age 22, it has also approved either type of implant for women of any age if they are having reconstructive surgery. Reconstructive breast surgery is different from breast augmentation in a few ways, although both surgeries often involve implants. The goal with breast reconstruction is to rebuild the breasts, usually after they have been removed through a mastectomy, the American Cancer Society notes. In some cases, reconstructive breast surgery is also performed to repair breasts that have been severely damaged, such as by burns or in a car accident.
Age Can Be
Just a Number
Your maturity level matters more than your calendar age when it comes to getting implants. Maturity refers to both emotional maturity and physical maturity. Some women are late bloomers and might have breasts that are still developing in their early 20s, for example. Since it’s best to wait for the breasts to be fully developed before scheduling surgery, some women might naturally need to wait longer than others.
Emotional maturity is a different matter. There’s no definitive way to measure someone’s emotional maturity. Women have to make that decision on their own. Generally speaking, though, a woman is emotionally ready for breast implants after she’s spent some time thinking about her goals and has fully weighed the pros and cons of the procedure. Her reasons for wanting implants can reflect that maturity or not. For example, a woman who is emotionally mature and ready to handle the psychological effects of getting implants will be getting them to make herself happy.
On the other hand, a woman is getting implants because her partner wants her to or because she thinks it is what other people want is most likely not emotionally mature enough for the implants. No matter how old a woman is, breast augmentation is never a decision to rush into.
There’s No One Perfect
Age for Breast Implants
While there’s no right age for breast implants, women in some age brackets might be better suited for breast augmentation than others.
In 2015, breast augmentation was among the most popular procedures for women between the ages of 30 and 39 and between 40 and 54, according to statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Women over age 55 were much less likely to have the surgery, as were women under age 29. There are a few reasons why women might choose to have breast augmentation between the ages of 30 and 55. Many women are usually settled into their lives by that point and they might have finished having kids and breastfeeding, both of which can change the size and shape of the breasts.
Or, they might have reached the decision not to have kids. Additionally, women between the ages of 30 and 55 are fully physically mature and developed but usually haven’t yet started to face the health conditions common among older women.
They might also be more financially prepared to take on the cost of cosmetic surgery.
Can Teens Have Breast Augmentation?
Since the FDA only approves saline implants for women over age 18, you might wonder if that means breast augmentation is off the table for many teenagers. Teens do get breast implants. More than 8,000 teens between the ages of 13 and 19 got the procedure in 2019, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeon’s statistics. Those statistics don’t reveal how many of those teens were 13 compared to how many were 19, though. If you are a teenager considering breast implants or you are a parent of a teen who wants implants, it’s very important to think about the emotional maturity of the teen, as well as their physical maturity. For example, a 16-year-old who’s unhappy about small breasts today might end up thrilled with the way her breasts look at age 18, without having to have surgery.
Another important consideration for teens who want breast implants is who the surgery is for. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons stresses the importance of the surgery being for the patient themselves. It shouldn’t be performed to make a boyfriend or parent happy.
Usually, a plastic surgeon can determine who the surgery is for during a consultation with a patient. If an 18-year-old comes in for a consultation and seems self-assured and confident that surgery is what they want, the surgeon will most likely agree to proceed with breast augmentation. But if there’s a sense that the surgery is being requested to make a parent or significant other happy, the surgeon might caution waiting.
Guidelines on Breast
Implants for Teenagers
Generally speaking, teens who want breast implants should wait until they are at least 18 years old unless a special circumstance requires them to get breast implants sooner. The minimum age of 18 is recommended by both the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Medical Association (AMA). There are a few reasons why younger teens are encouraged to wait for surgery. One is that many teens aren’t fully developed by the time they turn 18. The AMA notes that on average, girls gain weight between the ages of 18 and 21. This weight gain can affect the size of their breasts and might change their opinion or desire for breast implants. There are also emotional reasons to delay breast augmentation until a person is 18. Younger teenagers might not have the emotional or mental maturity to fully consider the commitment and risks of breast implants.
Consent is another issue to consider when teenagers want breast augmentation if they aren’t yet 18. Parents need to provide consent for cosmetic surgery for patients under the age of 18.
That means that a 16- or 17-year-old needs to involve their parents in their decision, which can complicate the matter. Depending on the parent, some might ask their teen to wait until they are older while others might agree to let them go ahead with the procedure.
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Breast Implants for Teenagers to Correct Asymmetry
Although many teenagers want breast implants for cosmetic reasons, there are also several congenital issues that can contribute to the desire for breast implants. Asymmetry can be more pronounced in some teens than in others, due to disorders such as Poland syndrome. Some teens have tuberous breasts which can be corrected with implants.
When a person has Poland syndrome, the muscles are underdeveloped or missing on one side of the body. In some cases, Poland syndrome is apparent from birth, as one of the hands might be underdeveloped or the fingers might be fused together.
In other instances, the differences in the muscles might not be visible until a person reaches puberty and one side of the chest appears much larger than the other.
The muscle that is most likely to be affected by Poland syndrome is the pectoralis major, the biggest muscle in the chest, according to MedlinePlus. Due to the underdevelopment of the muscle, the chest can appear concave on one side. Some people also have deformities of the breast and nipple on the affected side.
Poland syndrome is relatively rare and only occurs in about one out of every 20,000 babies. If it affects a teenager, a breast implant and reconstructive surgery on the side of the chest with the underdeveloped or missing muscle can help to restore symmetry.
Another example of a deformity that can cause asymmetry of the breasts is tuberous breasts. When a person has tuberous breasts, the breast tissue doesn’t develop fully during puberty. It’s not clear how many people have tuberous breasts, as many women might have the condition and not report it or seek to correct it. Doctors are also still gaining knowledge of the condition and might not accurately diagnose it when it does appear. For the most part, tubular breasts don’t cause physical harm or complications. Some women with the condition might have difficulty breastfeeding should they have children later on. The condition can also make a teenager feel self-conscious about the shape, size, or evenness of their breasts. Some common signs of tubular breasts include:
- Asymmetry: One breast will be notably larger in size than the other.
- Unusual breast shape: Instead of having a round shape, tubular breasts can be oval or square-shaped. Some appear to be pointed.
- Enlarged nipples: The nipples of tubular breasts often look enlarged or might be very dark in color. The nipples might also appear collapsed, according to Healthline.
- Space between the breasts: Often, when a person has tubular breasts, the distance between the breasts is wider than usual. There might be more than 1.5 inches between the two breasts.
Tubular breasts can make a teen feel very self-conscious, even more self-conscious than most teens feel. Surgery to correct the issue is usually a two-part process, as the constriction of the breasts needs to be loosened before a surgeon can perform breast augmentation with implants.
Can You Be Too Old for Breast Implants?
Young women aren’t the only ones concerned about their appearance. Older women often decide that they would like breast implants too. Depending on how old they are, they might wonder how old is too old for breast augmentation. Can you get breast implants at 50? Is 65 too old for breast augmentation? Not necessarily. While 18 seems to be the lower age limit for teenage breast implants, there really is no upper plastic surgery age limit. What matters most is a patient’s health and emotional well-being. While just over 8,000 teenagers had breast augmentation in 2019, more than 86,000 people between the age of 40 and 54 chose to have the surgery that year. A little under 7,500 people over the age of 55 also had breast augmentation in 2019.
Age really can be just a number when it comes to getting breast implants. Many older women are healthy enough to successfully undergo the procedure and are thrilled with the results of their surgeries. Often, women over the age of 40 who are considering breast augmentation are doing so for different reasons than younger women. In many cases, they want to restore the shape of their breasts and regain lost volume. Sagging breasts or breasts that look deflated can make women look older and can contribute to a loss of self-confidence. As with teenagers, women of a certain age should consider their reasons for wanting implants. Ideally, you’ll be thinking of the surgery as a way to make yourself happy, rather than please others.
Breast Implants and Mammograms
One thing to consider if you’re over 40 and are thinking of getting implants is how the implants might affect mammogram results. Fortunately, The Cleveland Clinic is very reassuring about the fact that the mammography machine won’t squeeze or damage the implants.
In many cases, the implant won’t interfere with the results of the imaging, especially if the surgeon places the implant beneath the chest muscle. However, the technologist performing the imaging might have to take pictures from different angles to account for the presence of the implants. Should get you implants later in life, be sure to let your technologist know about them when you schedule a mammogram.
Schedule A Consultation
Breast Augmentation and Breast Lift
Another thing to consider if you want implants over the age of 40 is whether you should combine breast augmentation with a breast lift. While augmentation enhances the size of the breasts, a breast lift restores their shape and position. Scheduling a breast lift with augmentation might be the right option for you based on your age and the appearance of your breasts. Most women develop sagging in the breasts when they get older, as a result of gravity and a loss of skin elasticity. Weight gain or loss can also make the breasts droop. Many surgeons combine breast augmentation and breast lift surgeries to help rejuvenate the breasts, making them perkier, fuller, and more youthful-looking.
HOW OLD YOU SHOULD BE FOR BREAST RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY
While the FDA has only approved saline implants for people over age 18 and silicone implants for those over age 22 for cosmetic reasons, there is no lower age limit if a person needs implants to reconstruct the breasts. Women might decide to undergo reconstructive breast surgery following the removal of their natural breasts due to cancer treatment. Although the risk of breast cancer in young women is low, some might develop it and may need to consider reconstruction before they are 18. A person might also choose to have breast reconstructive surgery at any age to correct congenital abnormalities in the breasts.
How to Tell if You’re the “Right Age” for Breast Augmentation
If age is just a number when it comes to breast implants, how can you tell if the timing is right for you? Several factors come into play.
One factor is your health. The ideal candidate for breast augmentation, whether she is 18 or 58, will be in good overall health. That means not having any untreated or unmanaged chronic conditions. It also means avoiding certain habits, such as smoking.
If you’re not sure if your health is good enough to make you a candidate for breast augmentation, you can talk to your doctor to learn more. You should also consider whether this is the right time for you emotionally, financially, and practically to get breast implants.
Questions to Ask to See if
Breast Implants Are Right for You
If you’re not sure if breast implants are right for you right now, here are some questions to ask yourself to see if you’re emotionally and mentally ready for the surgery:
- Why do you want breast implants? One way to see if you’re emotionally ready for breast implants, whether you’re 20 or 50, is to ask yourself why you want them. Ideally, the answer would be to make yourself happy, not to please someone else.
- How do you feel about yourself overall? Breast implants can help improve your self-esteem and give you a confidence boost but they won’t solve all of your problems. Reflect on how you feel overall and what you expect from the implants to see if you’re ready for them.
- Can you handle the recovery process? Recovering from breast augmentation can mean that you experience some discomfort. You will also most likely need to take time off from work or school. Think about how you cope with being sick or feeling under the weather to get an idea of how you might handle the recovery period after breast augmentation.
- How do you think you’ll feel about your body in a few years? How you view your body is likely to change as you get older. If you’re a young teenager, you might develop more confidence in the way you look as you mature. Reflect on the future before deciding to get implants.
- Are you prepared to handle the maintenance of your implants? As the FDA states, breast implants aren’t “lifetime devices.” You might need to monitor them or potentially replace them as the years go on. You’ll also want to perform massage or exercises on the implants to help them settle into position and to reduce the risk of complications.
The FDA has approved saline breast implants for women over age 18 and silicone implants for women over age 22, for cosmetic reasons. Women of any age can have implants for reconstructive reasons.
If you’re the parent of a teen who wants implants, you can talk to them about their decision in greater detail and schedule a consultation with a plastic surgeon to discuss the surgery in depth. Teenage breast implants are approved on a case-by-case basis.
There’s no official age limit for having breast augmentation or getting implants. Your overall health and reasons for wanting surgery matter much more than your age.
Breast implants at 50 may or may not be a good idea, depending on your health and other factors. Your plastic surgeon can give you an idea of whether or not you’re healthy enough for surgery.
Breast implants will most likely not interfere with the results of your mammogram, depending on their location within the chest. It’s a good idea to tell the technologist before imaging begins so they can make any adjustments that may be necessary.
You might be able to get silicone implants at the age of 20, but doing so is considered off-label use. Off-label use of implants can void any warranties on them.
The FDA set a minimum age of 22 for silicone implants for cosmetic reasons largely because the patients involved in the studies of silicone breast implants were all over the age of 22. A surgeon might place silicone implants in patients under 22, or they might recommend saline ones instead.
The best age to get implants is when you’re ready for them. That can be early in your 20s, later in life after you’ve had children, or even later on.
The age range with the largest number of breast augmentation procedures in 2019 was between 30 and 39.
It really depends on the patient. Some women are excellent candidates for breast augmentation at age 60 because of their overall health while others aren’t. Your plastic surgeon can help you decide if you’re too old for implants or not.
Over time, wear and tear take their toll on your implants. As you age, you will need to keep an eye on your implants and replace them if necessary. Fortunately, they are designed to be long-lasting.
Learn More About Breast Augmentation At Any Age
Everybody is different, which is one reason there’s no hard and fast age limit for plastic surgery. If you’re not sure whether the procedure is right for you, the first step to take is to talk to an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon.
Dr. Paul Vitenas is a Houston-based, celebrated plastic surgeon with 30 years of experience. He’s been named a top doctor and a highly rated breast surgery specialist. He can answer your questions about breast augmentation and address any age-related concerns.
To learn more, call 972-737-7477 to schedule a breast augmentation consultation at his practice in Houston, Texas.