What is the Right Age for Teenage Rhinoplasty?
We all have aspects of our appearance we don’t love, whether it’s our physique, our hair, our facial features, or something else. Even if there’s little you can do to actually address the issue, most concerns have a cosmetic work-around, like flattering clothing or makeup. But for the millions who are discouraged by the shape of their nose, there’s little they can do on their own. Fortunately, rhinoplasty (or nose surgery) is able to offer many of these patients a more balanced and proportionate appearance. Teenagers who are unhappy with their noses are often aware of how successful this option can be, but at what age is it appropriate to actually move forward with nose surgery?
While a bump or unwanted curve on a child’s nose may be evident at an early age, the nose continues to grow and change until the mid to late teens. Waiting until a child’s nose has reached (or nearly reached) its full adult form is crucial for the long-term success of rhinoplasty. The surgery is based on making precise and small changes which have a strong impact on the overall symmetry and balance of the face. Ensuring that your nose has matured before surgery will make it unlikely that your nose will change in the future and reduce the results of your procedure. Everyone’s body and face matures at its own pace, but the nose has typically reached around 95% of its adult size by age 14-16 for girls, and a year later for boys.
While physical maturity definitely plays a role in determining whether a teenager is ready for rhinoplasty, emotional maturity is just as important. This is why I only perform rhinoplasty on patients over the age of 18—to help ensure that the patient understands their options and that the decision is truly based on what the patient wants rather than on other influences.
Plastic surgery is a team effort which requires just as much vigilance from the patient as it does from the surgeon. Patients are given very specific instructions to follow for several weeks before and after their procedure, from supplements and medications to avoid to caring for their incisions. Following these directions is vital to both the patient’s safety and the quality of the results, and a teenager needs to be responsible enough to care for their health before and after surgery. In addition, a teenage patient and their parents should be on the same page about the surgery, because the teen will need their parents’ emotional and practical support throughout their recovery.
On top of this, patients of any age need to be mature enough to understand that, while it is cosmetic, the surgery is still a significant medical procedure with risks they need to recognize and evaluate. Finally, as a double board-certified plastic surgeon, it’s important for me to ensure that the patient is pursuing surgery for the right reasons and has realistic expectations. Whether you’re sixteen or sixty, it’s crucial to understand that surgery will simply make a physical change—it will not make you more popular or fix other issues you may have.
As is the case with any cosmetic surgery, there are many factors which must come together to make someone a good candidate for nose surgery, from anatomy to maturity, as well as an adequate support system of family and friends who can care for them during their recovery and keep their spirits high. To discuss whether the time is right for plastic surgery, schedule a pre-surgical consultation. Or, for more cosmetic surgery tips, news, and helpful information, follow me at the John L. LeRoy, MD Facebook page, as well as on Twitter and Google+.