Teens & Cosmetic Procedures: Minimally invasive trend makes decisions easier

HealthBill JohnsonFood and Drug Administration

19 year old Braelynn Harris has wanted to do something about her stomach and outer thighs since she was 17 years old.

"Probably my senior year I was still really fit but I've always had the one area and the one body type so then since high school," Braelynn said.

Now the SMU sophomore has decided to take the plunge with a non invasive procedure the Food and Drug Administration approved in December.

It's called Liposonix and uses advances concentrations of ultrasound to destroy fat cells under the skin.

Braelynn said many fellow students her age are having cosmetic procedures—some of them of the more invasive variety.

"I know a lot of people have breast augmentation, nose jobs, especially in the area that I'm in so I think it's a bigger percentage than normal," Braelynn said.

Dr. Bill Johnson is the medical director of Innovations Medical in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Johnsons estimated that about 10% of his patients are 18 and 19 years old--many of them drawn to minimally invasive technologies.

"I think there is starting to be more interest in that,” Dr. Johnson said. “I think it's easier to say yes as a clinician to that, you know that there is minimal risk and it's a good place to have a first experience with this kind of work."

Dr. Johnson said most women have achieved their normal body shape by 17 or 18--under that age many procedures would not be recommended. 

Braelynn's trouble spots are marked and then the ultrasound is applied.

Dr. Johnson said the only real side effect is minor bruising.

Braelynn said it feels like a bee sting.

"It feels like needles are pricking me every once in awhile," Braelynn said with a smile.

Dr. Johnson said the targeted fat cells are gone for good.

"The fat cells themselves are destroyed so that fat can't come back because the cells they were living on are gone have been destroyed and then dissolved by the body," Dr. Johnson said.

Braelynn said her parents are supportive of her decision to have the elective minimally invasive procedure which will cost upwards of $4,000.00.

Braelynn said surgery wasn't an option.

"This is a lot less frightening."


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