incredible-marketing Arrow

Booking a Rhinoplasty for a Teenager: What You Should Know

The most common facial plastic surgery request we see in teenagers is rhinoplasty. Whether from a sports injury or from genetics, many teenagers aren’t happy with their nasal appearance. And some are so bothered by it that it affects their self-confidence or self esteem. Sometimes, unfortunately, they get teased by it. A rhinoplasty can be an effective surgery to improve one’s nasal appearance and regain one’s self-confidence. But there are some important differences in the work up of rhinoplasties between adults and teenagers.

First, the age is crucial to whether one can get a rhinoplasty. The nose contains the center of facial growth. It’s theoretically possible that performing a rhinoplasty on teenagers who have not stopped growing can affect his or her facial development. I’m not aware of any studies definitively looking at this because no one is going to design a study where random half of kids will get a potentially damaging surgery. It’s just not ethically sound to do such a project. But we do have enough knowledge of facial anatomy and growth patterns to arrive at this recommendation.

Furthermore, adopting a more conservative stance is safe because a rhinoplasty is almost never an “urgent” procedure that must be done to save a life. So how do we determine when a teenager is ready for rhinoplasty? Generally, girls can get a rhinoplasty between ages 14-16, and boys between 15-17. Girls tend to mature quicker than boys. But these age ranges only provide guidance. It’s more important to determine whether an individual is ready.

Some girls are ready at age 14, but others may not be ready until 18. For me, the best question to ask is to determine whether the teenager has stopped growing. There are certain questions that can provide a clue. Asking if the patient is still growing in height is one. Do they still need to buy new bigger shoes? For girls, one can ask if their periods are normal? If the answers reveal they are still growing, then I don’t recommend surgery. If not, then I feel more comfortable offering surgery. There are uncommon circumstances when a teenager has a severe nasal obstruction that’s interfering with his or her lifestyle. Those cases are handled case by case, and occasionally a limited surgery may be done.

A second key difference between teenagers and adults who want surgery has to do with the legality of treating kids. It’s frustrating that we often receive calls from kids wanting a surgery consultation without their parents’ knowledge. This is not legal. Teenagers who are interested in rhinoplasties MUST have their parents’ knowledge and approval. In addition, they have to come to the consultation with their parents. It’s not legal to see an under age patient without their guardians. Teenagers who are calling about rhinoplasties also need to realize this surgery is expensive. I’ve never met a teenager who can pay for this surgery. Again, the parents must be involved to 1) grant permission and consent to evaluation, and 2) be able to pay for the surgery—whether it’s purely cosmetic or has insurance coverage.

Another difference is timing of the surgery if the teenager is a candidate. Adults can schedule the surgery with more freedom. Taking time off work can be coordinated between the patient and their employer. If they’re self employed, they know which months are better for down time. Teenagers, though, are going to high school—a very important educational period that is critical to their college or post high school job preparation. Postoperative course usually lasts 7-10 days. This is too long to take off school because their grades will suffer. So teenagers really only have the summer, winter, and spring break holidays to get the surgery.

The technical aspects of a rhinoplasty are the same for teenagers and adults. However, teenagers must have reached mature growth stage before they can have surgery, and that varies from patient to patient. And, no matter how emotionally and mentally mature the teenager is, they still need their parents’ approval to get this surgery.

For more information about rhinoplasty for teens in San Antonio contact Dr. Kenneth Yu Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. We are a qualified team of experts serving the San Antonio, Texas area. To schedule a consultation, please call our Concierge Patient Coordinator at (210) 876-6868 today.