Some students choose to get plastic surgery

“I thought I was going to die,” Crystal Lewis said.

“My arms and legs were frozen. My tongue felt thick with saliva. But it was the best thing that I’ve done for myself yet.”

Lewis, 20, a criminal justice student from Miami, is a part of the rising number of people age 18 to 24 who have received plastic surgery; a number that shows to be steadily rising.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, nearly 8.3 million people had surgical procedures performed in 2003. People age 19 to 34 made up 24 percent of the 8.3 million, a 12 percent increase from 2002. People age 18 and younger accounted for less than three percent of that total.

“As people get older, appearance becomes more of an issue,” plastic surgeon Jeffrey Rawlings said.

Some researchers suggest that the rising number of youths receiving plastic surgery is due partially to television shows that glamorize surgery such as “The Swan” and “Dr. 90210.”

Surprisingly, the ASAPS also reported that men had nearly 1.1 million surgical procedures in 2003, a 31 percent increase from 2002.

The top procedures for men age 19 to 24 were liposuction, peck implants, nose jobs and ear reshaping. The top procedures for women age 19 to 24 were breast implants, nose jobs and liposuction.

“I’ve had problems with my weight since I was about 16,” Lewis said.

“I would have gotten plastic surgery sooner, but I was too young.”

Most surgeons advise patients to wait until they are of legal age for certain procedures.

“Patients who want to receive implants must be 18,” Rawlings said. “Before then, the breasts are still developing. Performing surgery before the breasts are fully developed could lead to soreness or swelling of the nipples.”

Most other procedures can be done beginning as early as age 16.

Plastic surgery may make an arm and a leg look better, but it might be costly.

In Lewis’ case, she received liposuction and a tummy tuck. According to charts produced by the ASAPS, those procedures can range anywhere from $3,000 to $7,000 each.

So who is footing the bill for these new bodies?

“The total cost for my procedure was $7,000,” Lewis said.

“Half of the money was money that I had saved up. The other half was given to me by my parents.”

“For my 18th birthday I told my parents that I wanted breast implants,” said Maria Frieze, a 23-year-old makeup artist for MAC cosmetics.

“They were shocked at first, but I ended up getting the implants.”

Plastic surgery is often glamorized, but there are risks. In an article published by The Daily Texan on, plastic surgeon Phillip R. Lansdon said cosmetic surgery can cause blindness, infections, blood clots, stroke, heart attacks, scaring and total loss of facial membranes.

Lewis also cautioned anyone considering plastic surgery.

“Anyone considering plastic surgery must take it serious. Do your research and do it well,” Lewis said.

Contact Lakeisha Troutman at