Transcript for Teens Making the Adult Decision to Have Breast Reduction Surgery
More and more in our country young girls are making grobe-up decisions about their bodies, their self-image. One area that's growing in demand is breast reduction. For reasons well beyond cosmetics. One prominent teen star has put a new face on this increasingly popular procedure. Here is my "Nightline" coanchor juju Chang. I feel like my life has been building up to this point. Reporter: The nerdy but loveable Alex dun fee on "Modern family." You really think I'm that pathetic to create an imaginary boyfriend? Reporter: A teenager onscreen and off, 17-year-old Ariel winter opens up about her adult decision to have breast reduction surgery. In an interview with gloom mor.com she reveals she underwent the procedure in June, going from 32f to 34d. She says she's dealt with issues related to breast size since she was 15, suffering severe back and neck pain as well as negative comments online about her appearance. In the interview she says, post-surgery I have felt more happy with myself than I ever have. The feeling of not having so much there was such a relief. I was buying clothes and crying as I put them on, I was so happy. You feel like, this is how I was supposed to be. Winter is just one of thousands of teen girls who have gone under the knife for this increasingly popular procedure. Breast reduction surgeries have increased 157% in the U.S. In the past 15 years. Why this uptick? Some studies suggest girls today reach puberty earlier, pointing to the obesity epidemic or hormones in the modern diet. Other experts say it's because the surgery has gotten so safe and artful. I'm excited. I love to wear things like this all the time but it's so low. Reporter: Mckenzie Langon is one of those girls who struggles with her breast size. Her bra size? 32h. Uh-huh, "H." Mckenzie is making a drastic decision, to go under the knife to surgically shrink the size of her breasts on her 18th birthday. Someone told me that I was going against god. He gave me a gift and I shouldn't be doing this. To them I want to say, I don't care about your opinion because at the end of the day it's my body. Reporter: Doctors tell us younger and younger women are seeking out the procedure, praising thorny questions. Are teenagers like Mckenzie old enough to understand the potential risks, like scarring, loss of nipple sensitivity, even losing the ability to breast-feed? The risks are kind of scary. Like -- potential bleeding, scar tissue. I'm so ready to take that chance because it's going to be worth it in the end. Reporter: The size of Mckenzie's breasts -- This bra is the devil. Reporter: -- Of a taken a physical and emotional toll since her early teens. So uncomfortable. The worst part is just walking down the street or walking down the hall at school, being known as the girl with the giant boobs. Having guys date me because I have boobs. It gives me a lot of self-confidence issues because I feel like I can't trust people. Reporter: It's two weeks before the surgery. We have pre-op at 10:00. Reporter: Mckenzie and her mom are driving the two hours to Boston children's hospital for her pre-op appointments. I asked him, if I want to have kids am I going to be able to breast-feed? What impact is this going to have on my body? Reporter: She's meeting Dr. Brian Lebeau. We see patients as young as 12 or 13, middle schoolers. But that's rare. Reporter: He's one of the few surgeons who specialize in teen breast reductions. A field fraught with controversy. You can have a patient who is 15 or 16 be perhaps more emotionally mature than someone who's 18. Physical, social, psychological, emotional, self-esteem issues are all decreased with this. How are you? Great seeing you. Reporter: Luckily for Mckenzie, her insurance covers this procedure. Otherwise it would cost roughly $10,000. Which is nearly triple what the average breast enlargement surgery costs. I would expect that if you want to breast-feed that at least in part you would be able to breast-feed, though we probably are making it a little bit more difficult to do so. Reporter: For Mckenzie the long-term benefits outweigh the risks. I want to look, a Normal girl. I've never been so sure of one thing in my entire life that I want to do. Reporter: Two weeks later, the night before surgery, we pay Mckenzie a quick visit to her hotel room. Hey! Hi. So glad to see you. How are you feeling? I'm feeling good. Do you know what size you're going to be when it's over? They said maybe a "D" if I'm lucky. A c-plus, D. Mom, when you think of tomorrow or the surgery, what comes to mind? I'm a little nervous. I'm really proud that she is definitely going through with something that is going to impact her for the rest of her life. It's a very hard decision. A birthday present for you. Oh, nice! Reporter: Bryce and early the morning of her 18th birthday, Mckenzie arrives in pre-op. That's adorable. Tie that to the stretcher. Reporter: Officially an adult, she signs her first consent form. Mckenzie is allowing us to be with her every moment of her surgery, four hours in total. Mom's never wavered in her support, showing no signs of fear -- until now. It's hard. It is. Nobody likes this. No, no. I'm actually really nervous. I'm sure, I'm sure. Reporter: On the table, the complicated work begins. Set for incision? Use a scale to weigh how much you've removed. Yes, we do that for a couple of reasons. One, you want to have that documented for purposes of insurance. I also get a sense of how much we've done on this side and then when we go to the other side we'll be able to say, we want a little more, less, that kind of thing. Reporter: We check in on mom. She went to sleep okay? We went in after she went to sleep, but she's good. Reporter: After nearly four hours, the team is done. Having removed about a pound from each breast. The surgery went very smoothly. It was pretty much exactly what we thought it was going to be. We didn't take off a huge amount of tissue. Just a nice, proportionate amount. She'll feel lighter right away. She looks great. She's going to look really good. Wonderful. Reporter: Mckenzie is groggy and in pain, but awake. It's over. Good. Reporter: It will be two weeks before Mckenzie can move around freely, a recovery period some patients describe as painful. On the day bandages come off, Mckenzie's shopping for a senior prom dress for her new figure. Gone is the 32h. She's a comfortable 32d. I'm in love with it. In love with this dress. I didn't really feel any different until I got to the doctor today and I looked down and I was just like, oh my god. Like, they're gone. So great. And I noticed as soon as I woke up on Thursday that my back pain is gone, which is the best thing ever. I can sit up straight without crying because my back always used to hurt. And I just feel like a completely -- like a new me. It's too big on the top, that's a miracle. Reporter: Her dress size has gone from 8 to 0. She finds the perfect dress. A princess moment without the zipper tug of war. It's like I have a new life and I'm stepping into adulthood as a new person. Reporter: For "Nightline" I'm juju Chang in Boston.
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