How Young is Too Young for Cosmetic Rhinoplasty Surgery?

Published: October 6, 2022
Category: Face, Rhinoplasty

Rhinoplasty was the number one cosmetic surgical procedure performed in 2020, according to the Plastic Surgery Statistics Report released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Although it is a popular procedure for a wide range of patients from diverse backgrounds, the demand for surgical nose reshaping has quickly risen in one age group in particular. Nearly half of all plastic surgeries performed on teenagers worldwide are Rhinoplasties. This makes it the most common pediatric plastic surgery performed on patients between the ages of 13 and 19. Many plastic surgeons attribute this dramatic rise in popularity to the influx of dramatic nose transformations posted on social media platforms, like TikTok, by young influencers. But, how young is too young for Rhinoplasty surgery?

“When performed by an experienced and qualified plastic surgeon, Rhinoplasty can be an excellent way to improve the appearance and function of the nose and enhance facial harmony,” says Dr. Michael Philbin, a board-certified plastic surgeon, and partner with Edina Plastic Surgery. “Even though the risk of serious complications is low, Cosmetic Rhinoplasty is still a major surgical procedure that involves several tissues of the face, including bone, cartilage, and skin,” he explains. “Special precautions must be taken with younger patients whose tissues are still growing and whose facial structure may still be developing.”

Why is Rhinoplasty surgery so popular with teens?

The nose holds a prominent facial position and has tremendous emotional significance to each individual. A nose considered too large, too small, too crooked, or one that deviates in some way from a normal range can make a person feel self-conscious, insecure, and anxious in social situations. These insecurities can be exceptionally excruciating during young adulthood when the pressure to look a certain way is continuously reinforced by peers at school and on social media.

“Social media is a blessing and a curse when it comes to plastic surgery,” says Dr. Philbin. “On one side of the coin, it is a positive vehicle to showcase before and after results and reveal the transformative power that plastic surgery can have on a patient’s appearance and overall life,” he explains. “But, on the other side of the coin, it can misrepresent the seriousness of surgery and dilute the importance of seeking a qualified surgeon. Rhinoplasty is a complex surgery, and those complexities are heightened when it is performed on a younger patient.”

What special considerations does a plastic surgeon take into account when assessing a teenage patient for Rhinoplasty surgery?

Plastic surgeons generally encourage young adults to wait until at least 16 years for females and 17 years for males before undergoing cosmetic Rhinoplasty surgery. That being said, there are several caveats and exceptions to consider, and the legal consent of a guardian must be given for surgery if the patient is under 18 years old.

“When I assess a younger patient for cosmetic Rhinoplasty surgery, I am taking into consideration several things to ensure that this is a safe and healthy choice for the teen,” explains Dr. Philbin. “Of course, I examine the anatomy of the nose itself, but I am also assessing the emotional maturity and readiness of the patient, their psychological well-being, the dynamics they have with their parent(s), and whether or not altering the structure of their nose now may present future complications if their features aren’t fully developed yet. There is A LOT to consider. Rhinoplasty surgery on anyone younger than 18 is truly evaluated on a case-by-case basis.”

Complications that may arise from undergoing Cosmetic Rhinoplasty surgery at too young an age.

Teens reach skeletal facial maturity at different rates. Although girls mature more quickly than boys, many teens continue to develop after age 18. That means bone and other tissues may continue to change in the face and body.

“The risk of performing Cosmetic Rhinoplasty surgery on a patient who isn’t done growing yet is that we may create a nose now that doesn’t match the patient’s adult face later in life,” explains Dr. Philbin.  “Premature Rhinoplasty increases the likelihood of revision surgery down the line and may even compromise how well the nose functions in the future. That being said, if a teen is experiencing intense bullying or the appearance of their nose significantly impacts their mental well-being, early intervention may be the better option. Again, it is a very delicate and intricate case-by-case situation unique to each teen and their family.”

The most common time for a teen to undergo Cosmetic Rhinoplasty surgery is during the transition between high school and college..

Even if a teen’s facial skeleton has reached maturity, many plastic surgeons still advise young adults and their parents to wait a few years to ensure that emotional maturity has developed. Although this is somewhat subjective, it is imperative that a teen be able to cope with the stress of surgical recovery and not deem their decision as hasty later on in life. Therefore, the transition between high school and college is a very popular time for a young patient to undergo Rhinoplasty surgery.

“It is ideal for younger patients to wait until after high school to pursue Cosmetic Rhinoplasty surgery,” says Dr. Philbin. “If a teen plays high school sports, it offsets the risk of them suffering a nasal injury that could jeopardize their results. It also gives them more time to mature and settle into their decision. When a teen transitions into college, their social circles also change, and it may be easier to keep their surgery more private if that is a concern.”

“Having Cosmetic Rhinoplasty surgery is a big decision for young adults and their families. I strongly encourage teens to talk to their parents and discuss their options with a board-certified plastic surgeon with extensive experience performing this surgery on younger patients,” advises Dr. Philbin.  “A Rhinoplasty can have a significantly positive impact on a young person’s life when performed at the right time and by the right surgeon.”

Are you a teen who is interested in Cosmetic Rhinoplasty surgery? Are you a parent with a child concerned about the appearance of their nose? Schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss Rhinoplasty surgery with Dr. Philbin or another of the board-certified plastic surgeons at Edina Plastic Surgery by calling (612) 688-3177, texting (952) 925-1765, or CLICKING HERE.

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