Rhinoplasty: OK for Teenagers?

Nationally, the average age of a rhinoplasty patient is approximately 35. Some experts point to social media as the reason some younger patients consult physicians about rhinoplasty. In fact, the number of cosmetic surgeries performed on people age 18 and under was 74,233 in 2003, a 14 percent increase from 2000, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

“Occasionally, a young patient will come into my office with a parent to discuss nasal surgery to create a new look for their nose,” explained Dr. Jay Dutton of the Rhinoplasty Institute of Chicago (Oak Brook and Tinley Park, IL). “I don’t typically recommend patients under 16 undergoing rhinoplasty for various reasons, but there are exceptions.”

Recently, a 16-year-old patient named Victoria was one such example.

“I broke my nose when I was 11 which caused a large bump on the bridge,” Victoria explains. “I also had chronic sinus infections for years, so when I went to Dr. Dutton for sinus surgery, I opted to have the bump on my nose fixed as well.”

Most often, young patients undergo rhinoplasty surgery because of an accident or a sports injury. “Because of the bump, Victoria was self-conscious about the bump on her nose,” explains Dr. Dutton. “I knew that rhinoplasty would improve the look of her nose and even out the features on her face.”

However, when a young patient simply doesn’t like the way his or her nose looks, an immediate rhinoplasty may not always be the best solution. Young people are still maturing physically, not only the facial bones, but also the frontal lobe of the brain, which can make them more impulsive than mature adults.

The physical appearance of a young person’s face changes over time. Around age twelve, a person’s maxillary sinuses start to develop, which elongates the face and can also affect the shape of the forehead. For most girls, the nose has finished growing by age 15 or 16 and for most boys, it has finished growing by 16 or 17.

“Over time, some young patients actually grow into their’ nose or decide that the bump in their nose is a unique feature that they embrace,” explains Dr. Dutton. “I understand how difficult it can be to want to change something that makes you feel uncomfortable, but sometimes waiting a few years can make a patient more content in the long run.”

One thing is certain: a patient of any age should consult with a qualified, board certified plastic surgeon that has performed many rhinoplasty procedures. Patients should always review their photos with their surgeon in advance to make sure their goals are aligned.  They may also benefit from a detailed analysis with 3-D computer software.

“Dr. Dutton is not only a highly skilled surgeon, but also is a very kind and helpful person,” explains Victoria. “He always made me feel comfortable and answered all my questions. He really showed that he genuinely cared about me.”

If you are interested in exploring rhinoplasty or other facial plastic surgery, contact the office of Dr. Jay Dutton, Rhinoplasty Institute of Chicago, at 630-574-8222 or visit: www.rhinochicago.com

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