In many situations it is perfectly reasonable, and in fact preferable, to allow parents to consent to medical interventions on the behalf of their minor children. Parents enjoy a constitutional liberty interest in directing the upbringing of their children; it is presumed that parents will act in the best interests of their children when they substitute their experiences and judgment for a child’s in making important life decisions.8 This article highlights, however, that when it comes to providing consent for their children to undergo medically unnecessary breast implant surgery, the rationales underlying the presumption of deference to parents and medical providers fail. Because there are reasons to believe this traditional consent framework will not protect the best interests of minors who seek breast implants, this article argues that it is appropriate for the federal government to mandate a national minimum age of eighteen for receiving breast implants.

This article begins in Part II by providing a brief background on breast implant surgery and its prevalence amongst minors. Part III outlines representative situations in which the federal government sets a national minimum age for access to products or procedures that can be unsafe for minors. Part IV illustrates scenarios where national age minimums are not deemed appropriate. Part V explores the rationales underlying both the use and rejection of age restrictions; it explains why a national minimum age for breast implants would serve similar policy goals as other age-based access controls. Part VI specifically addresses two primary counterarguments: highlighting why it is appropriate to impinge on both the physician-patient relationship and parental autonomy in the context of breast implants for minors.