Teens Buying Bigger Breasts

Once a cosmetic plastic surgery procedure of choice for older women hoping to look younger, breast implants are now popular among the teenage set.

In fact, according to the American Academy of Plastic Surgeons, nearly 4,000 teenagers, ages 18 and younger, underwent breast augmentation last year, more than a 24 percent increase from the year before. It's a trend that some find very disturbing.

The Early Show correspondent Tracy Smith reports that for as long as she can remember, 18-year-old Crystal Mast has been unhappy with the size of her breasts.

Crystal says, "My mom always said, 'You'll grow, you'll grow. You're only you know, you're 11, 12.' And I turned 17 and I was still the same size that I was when I was 11, and I was like, 'Why didn't I grow yet?'"

So when she finished high school this past spring, she decided to give herself a very personal graduation gift.

"Some people take out a car loan, I took out a boob loan," Crystal says.

Using the loan, which her mother helped her secure, and money from graduation presents, Crystal is buying breast implants, at a cost of nearly $7,000.

"I feel uncomfortable with my breast size," she says. "I'm into clothes and fashion and I don't like how a lot of clothes fit. They sit very flat on me. My prom dress for example, it was cut very low. And if I would have had more of a chest, it would have just looked even ten times better. It's a flaw. And you know what? In today's day and age, there's so much science. Why, if you can fix it, why not fix it?"

Asked if she is a little apprehensive about her daughter's decision, Michelle Mast says, "I don't think any mother wouldn't be. It is surgery. It is general anesthesia. You know, they're cutting into your baby's body."

To people out there who say she has the job to teach her daughter that beauty comes from the inside and it's not measured by the size of her chest, Michelle Mast says, "It's not about self-esteem with her. It's not that she feels her body is inadequate. She really just wants her clothes to look better on her. I guess it's worth it to her, you know. She's very excited."

While it may be exciting to Crystal, to others, it's alarming.

Dr. Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center for Women & Families, says, "An 18-year-old has a right to get breast implants, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea. She's still going to have changes in her body and changes in her emotional development that might make her very sorry about this decision."

Crystal, however, says she is not too young to be going through this procedure.

"I want to be able to live my life now," she says. "What about these older women that are getting Botox, right? I mean they're doing it to make themselves look younger. So I'm just trying to make myself look fuller. I don't see the difference."

Dr. Zuckerman notes, "Teenage girls are still developing and their bodies are still changing. They're still going to grow sometimes an inch or more. And usually they're going to gain weight and that's actually one of the reasons why breast augmentation is not a good idea for young girls."

Crystal's plastic surgeon sees it differently.

Dr. Stephen Greenberg says, "It's pretty uncommon even when you gain a substantial amount of weight - when you don't have any breast tissue like Crystal did, she had very minimal breast tissue - that they're going to develop anything later on. They may develop a little breast from gaining fat cells. But in general, once you don't have the breast tissue and you're very small that way, you're not even going to develop when you gain weight."

But is any 18-year-old really mature enough to alter her body in this way?

"Some 18-year-olds are absolutely not appropriate candidates to have breast augmentation or any other cosmetic surgery procedure," Dr. Greenberg says. "But the mature, both emotionally and physically mature 18-year-old, who has done their research, has parental support, I think is an appropriate candidate to at least be evaluated and to perhaps get breast implants."

But no matter what the patient's age, the surgery is not without risk.

Dr. Zuckerman says, "Most women with breast augmentation will have at least one serious complication within 3 to 5 years. Teenagers in particular, are especially bad at thinking this could happen to them. So I think it's more of a problem for teenagers because they do feel invulnerable."

But right now, just a few weeks after her surgery, Crystal is thrilled with the result - her A-cup is now a C-cup.

"Before, I had no cleavage line; it just sat flat," she says. "Now it's out and I think it fits the way the designer wanted it to fit."

Crystal takes her new body to college this week. And although she says this is the only cosmetic plastic surgery she intends to have, Dr. Greenberg wouldn't be surprised if she opts for more down the road.

He says, "Patients who have a cosmetic surgery procedure usually are used to it; they realize how easy it is to have a procedure and are more likely to go on in their life to have something else done."

So we might see her back in here doing something else?

"I think we may," Dr. Greenberg says.