Dear Teens:

A few years ago, I asked our teen readers, “When selecting a date, which of the following choices do you consider most important? The choices were: intelligence, religion, looks, personality, sense of humor, has the use of a car, and is tobacco, alcohol and drug-free.”

My teen survey question was answered by 4,642 teens (3,102 girls, 1,540 boys). For the girls, the most important characteristic they considered for boys was does not smoke, drink or take drugs. By a huge majority, too: 49 percent made this No. 1. Next came a good sense of humor at 14 percent; personality, 13 percent; intelligence, 10 percent; same religion, 7 percent; looks, 3 percent; and, finally, has use of a car, 1 percent.

The boys had a different set of values. They chose looks for No. 1 at 33 percent, followed by personality at 20 percent and a good sense of humor at 13 percent for the top three characteristics they sought in girls they were interested in. The top three were then followed by intelligence, 11 percent; same religion, 10 percent; not smoking, drinking or taking drugs, 5 percent; and has use of a car, 1 percent.

As you can see, teen boys and girls show differences when choosing who they may be interested in dating. Of course, my survey would be considered rather “informal,” given the number participating and the unscientific nature of the survey itself, but many find it interesting, nonetheless.

I found these results indeed tend to correlate with the tens of thousands of letters I’ve received over the years.

Dear Teens: I’m often asked if cosmetic surgery is appropriate for a teenager. Celebrity admiration — resulting from television shows, movies and videos — has influenced teens to seek and endure cosmetic surgery, often without hesitation or acknowledgment of risks. However, a cosmetic procedure is still a medical process and should be treated as such, especially by teens.

How can parents know if and when a cosmetic procedure is appropriate for their teen? Dr. Roy G. Geronemus, director of the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York and a past president of the American Society for Dermatological Surgery and the American Society for Laser Medicine & Surgery, urges teens to genuinely consider cosmetic surgical procedures before pursuing them, taking the necessary precautions to ensure a successful result. The following advice can be used to make informed decisions regarding cosmetic procedures:

Do’s:

• Do carefully review all the reasons why cosmetic surgery is desired.

• Do use alternative methods to avoid unnecessary procedures.

• Do make sure procedures are safe and effective for teens under 18.

• Do choose a certified derma surgeon to perform/supervise the procedure.

Don’ts:

• Don’t undergo a cosmetic procedure on a whim.

• Don’t rely on a procedure to increase popularity.

• Don’t think a procedure is risk-free.

• Don’t view cosmetic surgery as a solution to a larger issue.

Write to Dr. Wallace at rwallace@galesburg.net.