A new car, a summer abroad or maybe even a Macbook might have served as perfectly acceptable fancy-kid graduation gifts in years past, but that’s no longer cutting it in the age of Jenners and lip fillers. The latest grad gift trend is a bit more…corporeal. Millennials are now celebrating important academic milestones by getting cosmetic procedures.
According to RealSelf, an online forum dedicated to reviews and research on cosmetic treatments, graduation is becoming a prime occasion for plastic surgery. “About one in three women who have undergone at least one cosmetic treatment were motivated to pursue work due to a major life milestone,” reports RealSelf. But while birthdays ranked as the number-one most popular milestone cited among older age groups, for a younger demographic, that milestone was graduation day.
“Graduation is a popular time for these kinds of gifts because it gives graduates an opportunity to enter the next phase of their life looking on the outside how they see themselves on the inside,” says Dr. Dara Liotta, a plastic surgeon in New York City who is affiliated with RealSelf. “It’s a perfect time to allow for healing and transformation before going on to college, graduate school or a new job so they can enter this new arena looking and feeling their best and most confident selves. They also have the downtime after graduation for recovery.”
Liotta does note that she tends to approach procedures for younger patients a bit differently than she might for middle-aged ones. “I think that the younger the patient is, the more easily they are influenced by those around them, and it is easier to have their insecurities rule their decision-making,” she explains. In other words, she’s not oblivious to the fact that the Kardashians, Jenners, Victoria’s Secret models and social media in general have had an impact on the way young people approach their appearance and the concept of cosmetic surgery. “I am always very conscientious, during my consultations, about determining why patients feel that they want to have cosmetic procedures or surgery….Choosing a cosmetic surgery or procedure should be empowering, and a decision that is made by the patient for themselves, rather than a decision they feel forced into.”
So, what procedures are these young grads getting? Surprisingly, lip fillers don’t rank among the top treatments. More commonly, recent graduates are opting for liposuction and breast implants, says Dr. David Shafer, also a New York City plastic surgeon who works with RealSelf. But some grads are looking for less surgical options. “For non-invasive [treatments], parents like to gift skin-care packages, like laser, which is great for acne-prone skin in this age group,” he adds, noting that still other parents simply buy a gift certificate and allow the grad to pick out their own cosmetic treatments.
It’s just like the old saying goes: “Get a diploma, then get liposuction.” Youths, amirite?